Xu Lindong’s confinement in a locked mental ward was all the more notable, his brother says, for one extraordinary fact: he was not the least bit deranged. Angered by a dispute over land, he had merely filed a series of complaints against the local government. The government’s response was to draw up an order to commit him to a mental hospital — and then to forge his brother’s name on the signature line. ...The old Soviet Union was also famous for using forced psychiatry and re-education camps to marginalize and punish political dissidents.
Mr. Xu’s ordeal exemplifies far broader problems in China’s psychiatric system: a gaping lack of legal protections against psychiatric abuses, shaky standards of medical ethics and poorly trained psychiatrists and hospital administrators who sometimes feel obliged to accept anyone — sane or not — who is escorted by a government official.
No one knows how often cases like Mr. Xu’s occur. But human rights activists say confinements in mental hospitals appear to be on the rise because the local authorities are under intense pressure to nip social unrest in the bud, but at the same time are less free than they once were to jail people they consider troublemakers. ...
In annual performance reviews of local government officials, reducing the number of petitioners is considered a measure of good governance. Allowing them to band together, and possibly stir up broader unrest, is an significant black mark that can lead to demotion.
The most dogged petitioners are often classified as crazy. In an interview last year, Sun Dongdong, chief of forensic psychiatry at prestigious Peking University, said, “I have no doubt that at least 99 percent of China’s pigheaded, persistent ‘professional petitioners’ are mentally ill.” He later apologized for what he said was an “inappropriate” remark.
The USA is not as bad as China, of course, but the family court here does use psychologists to punish psychologically healthy parents in order to shut them up and force them to submit to oppressive policies.
In my case, the court-appointed psychologist, Ken Perlmutter, refused to do the evaluation until he could talk to Commissioner Irwin Joseph and find out who he was supposed to punish. Perlmutter could not find any psychological disorder, and did not recommend counseling. He did not find anything wrong with my parenting practices or my relationship with my kids. But he recommended that the custody of my two kids be changed so that my ex-wife gets sole legal custody. His only reasoning was that Cmr. Joseph did not like me, and that it would be more convenient for the court if my spirit were crushed. He had no psychological evidence to back up his recommendation, and he is no better than those Chinese psychologist lackeys who commit healthy dissidents to mental hospitals.
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