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Dangerous Minds: Political Psychiatry in China Today and Its Origins in the Mao Era

NCJ Number
Date Published
309 pages
This report presents a history of politically abusive psychiatry in China, with a focus on the decade of the Cultural Revolution.
The main evidence compiled for this report was drawn from hundreds of legal and psychiatric studies published officially in China since 1949. The evidence shows that since the earliest years of the People's Republic of China, political dissidents, religious nonconformists, "whistle-blowers," and other dissenting citizens have consistently been viewed by the Communist Party of China as posing a major political threat to society. Even in the current economically more open China, such people continue to be arrested and imprisoned as enemies of the state. The official psychiatric literature in China clearly records that in many cases since the late 1950's, detained dissidents, nonconformists, "whistle-blowers," and other dissenters have additionally been subjected to forensic psychiatric evaluation by the legal authorities, found to be criminally insane, and then forcibly committed to various types of psychiatric institutions. The basic cause of politically abusive psychiatry in China today is the intractable problem of the Chinese Authorities' longstanding insistence upon viewing the peaceful expression of dissident or nonconformist views as constituting "political crimes" that must be sternly punished by law. Until this obstacle to the observance of internationally recognized human rights in China can be removed, a small but significant proportion of those arrested on such charges will continue to be diagnosed as having mental illness. Recommendations for reform are directed to the Chinese Government, to the Chinese psychiatric and mental health services community, to the international psychiatric community, and to other governments and international bodies. Appended texts of documents used as evidence for this report