seminar last week, which I attended, organised by Tony Stadlen, invited Vladimir Bukovsky, the anti-communist, to talk about his experiences of being detained in psychiatric hospital in the Soviet Union. Luckily for him, he was never given psychiatric medication and there was a dispute amongst psychiatrists about his diagnosis.
His case nonetheless highlights, which Bukovsky himself did, the political nature of psychiatric diagnosis and its potential for misuse. In Soviet psychiatry, the particular problem was the development of diagnoses such as sluggish or creeping schizophrenia and paranoid development of the personality, and the Soviets withdrew from the World Psychiatric Association for a while because of criticisms of their political abuse of psychiatry. People who do not fit into society are at risk of being regarded as mentally ill and such a mechanism can be exploited by the state.