Sunday, August 1, 2021

Mistreatment of Sakha Shaman Recalls Worst Aspects of Soviet Abuse of Psychiatry, Gutiontov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 26 – Pavel Gutiontov, who reports on continuity and change in Russian society since Soviet times, argues that those who are repressing Shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev in Sakha are the spiritual heirs of the Soviet abusers of psychiatry with their diagnoses of “sluggish schizophrenia,” a disease they found only in dissidents.

            The Novaya gazeta writer details the sad history of punitive psychiatry in Soviet times when the communist rulers regularly confined dissidents in psychiatric prisons and treated them with mind-altering drugs (

            Like their Russian successors, the Soviet “doctors,” many of whom were associated with the notorious Serbsky Institute, defended themselves against criticism within Russia and from abroad by insisting that “the dissidents remained alive and society was cleaner” because of their isolation from it.

            Indeed, by pointing to how similar the Russian diagnosis in the case of Gabyshev is to the Soviet ones of 40 and 50 years ago, Gutiontov implicitly raises the question as to why there has not been a similar outcry among psychiatrists around the world, an outcry that in fact forced Moscow to restrict and then largely end this despicable practice.

            Would that there might be a similar denunciation of what Russian “psychiatrists” are no doing in prostituting their profession in service to the powers that be in the Putin regime.

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