Dissidents in China Still Getting “Mentally-Illed”

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“The practice of locking up those who challenge the ruling Chinese Communist Party in mental institutions has become an endemic rights abuse in the country’s legal system,” reported Radio Free Asia. The article was based on the latest annual report from the Hubei-based Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch, which stated that the laws are providing “a way of imposing indefinite periods of detention on (people) without the need for a trial.”

“The 2013 Mental Health law, which was aimed at protecting mental health service users from misdiagnosis and involuntary medical treatment in China’s state-run psychiatric hospitals, has done little to improve the situation,” reported Radio Free Asia.

Mad In America previously reported on an article in the journal Psychiatry, Psychology and Law that also described China’s new mental health legislation as in part an attempt to grapple with public perceptions about widespread use and misuse of mental health system powers. “This problem,” wrote the authors, “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’.” Radio Free Asia apparently translated this word more colloquially as “being mentally-illed.”

“Why is it that we have the Mental Health Law, and yet the phenomenon of being mentally-illed is getting worse?” Liu Feiyue of Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch told Radio Free Asia. “The judiciary isn’t able to implement it properly, nor can it effectively act as a check on state power.”

Liu said that the mental health system is “above the law,” especially because the alleged goal of maintaining a person’s psychological stability, “trumps everything, including the judiciary.”

Forced ‘Psychiatric Care’ For China’s Government Critics Now Endemic: Report (Radio Free Asia, January 15, 2015)

Forced Psychiatric Treatment of People Who aren’t Disordered: The Chinese Have a Word for It (Mad In America, October 28, 2014)

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Rob Wipond
Rob Wipond is a freelance journalist who writes frequently on the interfaces between psychiatry, civil rights, the justice system, and social change. His articles have been nominated for three Canadian National Magazine Awards, nine Western Magazine Awards, and five Webster Awards for journalism. He is currently working on a book about people's experiences of forced psychiatric treatment, and can be contacted through his website.

3 COMMENTS

  1. All psychiatric services are, “a way of imposing indefinite periods of detention on (people) without the need for a trial.” This is true in the US, as well as China. The UN has stated, “Forced psychiatric treatment is torture,” worldwide. And the medical evidence has come in showing that the primary function of psychiatric services is covering up “adverse childhood events,” by stigmatizing and tranquilizing the victims.

    “Liu said that the mental health system is ‘above the law,’ especially because the alleged goal of maintaining a person’s psychological stability, ‘trumps everything, including the judiciary.'” The US has the same problem with our psychiatric system, and as always, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  2. “a way of imposing indefinite periods of detention on (people) without the need for a trial.”

    Not only in China – everywhere.

    “Liu said that the mental health system is “above the law,” especially because the alleged goal of maintaining a person’s psychological stability, “trumps everything, including the judiciary.””

    There isn’t really anything to add to that…

  3. Our entire legal system is contributing to the same problem here.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therapeutic_jurisprudence

    “The approach was soon applied to the way various legal actors–judges, lawyers, police officers, and expert witnesses—play their roles, suggesting ways of doing so that would diminish unintended antitherapeutic consequences and increase the psychological well-being of those who come into contact with these legal figures. ”

    The idea of judges, lawyers, police officers and expert witness playing at being psychiatrists ought to set off alarm bells all over America.

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