Forced Psychiatric Treatment of People Who aren’t Disordered: The Chinese Have a Word for It


An article in the journal Psychiatry, Psychology and Law reviews the development of China’s new mental health legislation. The process took a significant turn, the authors note, when a non-governmental organization submitted a report to the Chinese government about “cases of abuse of involuntary hospitalisation” that have been occurring in China, and in particular about the rise of a corrupt psychiatric practice which the Chinese have dubbed “Bei Jing Shen Bing.”

“[The report] claimed that, while many patients with mental disorders were left untreated, posing a threat to society and an unbearable burden on their families, some persons with no evidence of mental disorder were involuntarily hospitalised and treated without due process, mainly on the application of family members and local governments, because of family conflicts over property, or as a result of being viewed as repeat petitioners (or compulsive litigants),” write the authors. “This problem, thanks to news reports and website exposure, has become so prominent in China that it has its own name – ‘Bei Jing Shen Bing (被精神病)’ – which means in English, ‘the involuntary diagnosis and treatment of a mentally sound person as a mentally disordered patient’.”

“There has been considerable concern about this in Chinese society,” note the authors, “stimulating the fear that, without the protection of the Law, anyone might be hospitalised, losing liberty and property.”

(Abstract) The New Chinese Mental Health Law (Zhaoa, X. & Dawson J. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law. Volume 21, Issue 5, 2014. DOI: 10.1080/13218719.2014.882248)


  1. In Western Australia it’s listed under the Criminal Code as

    “Procuring the apprehension or detention of a person not suffering from a Mental Illness” and carries a prison term of 3 years. About time it was actually enforced, rather than a crime that merely gives the appearance of a protection from psychiatric abuse.

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