I will periodically post info. on new research, conferences, etc. on the topics of CERCAP and psychology in general. Today I want to alert the reader to a new meta-analysis on free-response studies by Lance Storm and collaborators, just published in the Psychological Bulletin (Meta-analysis of free-response... vol. 136, #4), along with a critique by skeptic Ray Hyman and, in my view, a fairly devastating counter-critique by Storm et al. This meta-analysis also greatly improves the earlier meta-analysis by Milton & Wiseman.

And on the issue of the abuse of psychiatry to repress disent, here is a forwarded email from the great psychological ethicist Ken S. Pope, with a great quotation at the end:

The new issue of *British Medical Journal* includes an article: "China's
psychiatric hospitals collude with officials to stifle dissent, say
civil rights' groups."

The authors are Jane Parry & Weiyuan Cui.

Here are some excerpts:

[begin excerpts]

In 2003, Xu Lindong, a farmer from Yancheng county, Henan province,
China, decided to file a petition in Beijing to help his neighbour
protest about maltreatment at the hands of local officials in a land
dispute. Xu never filed his petition.

On the outskirts of Beijing he was intercepted by a Daliu township
government official and a policeman, taken home, and subsequently
incarcerated in Zhumadian Psychiatric HospitalHenan, at the request of
township and county government officials.

Six and a half years later in April 2010, Xu was released from Luohe
Psychiatric Hospital, also in Henan province, where he had spent the
last five months of his ordeal, after being transferred there from
Zhumadian Hospital.

When he met the media he described barbaric treatment while in hospital,
including being given electric shocks 54 times and being forced to take
chlorprothixene and chlordiazepoxide, drugs which made him feel faint
and dizzy.

Xu's family did not know what had happened to him until July 2007.

"Someone from his home town visited other patients in the same hospital
as Xu and he managed to ask the visitor to get a message to his family,"
says Xu's lawyer Chang Boyang.

The family tried to secure his release but it was only when journalists
brought the case to the attention of the lawyer Chang that sufficient
public pressure mounted in the media to get him out.

Xu's case is, it seems, just the tip of the iceberg.

Lawyers, human rights activists, journalists, and bloggers have been
collating and exposing evidence of widespread abuse of the psychiatric
hospital system
 with "troublemakers" incarcerated without any formal
psychiatric evaluation or due legal process.

The situation has received widespread media and internet coverage in China.

"When normal citizens are put into psychiatric hospitals the situation
is very grave. They are often forced to take medicine or injections, and
when they don't cooperate they report being bound, beaten up, force fed
and electrocuted," Liu says.

"As social conflicts in China have intensified in recent years the
number of petitioners has increased and so has the number of normal
citizens being incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals."

It is a phenomenon that suits both local government officials who want a
swift solution to citizens who protest about their activities to higher
authorities, and psychiatric hospitals, which are under pressure to be
self financing in a healthcare system that since the 1990s has left
hospitals to largely fend for themselves.

In addition to petitioners complaining about local officials'
malfeasance, there are also cases of families and employers using this
method to deal with troublesome employees and relatives, observers say.

"Treatment is only available when there is someone willing to pay.  If
they have the money and the motive they can send someone to psychiatric
," says Huang Xuetao, a lawyer at the Shenzhen branch of Beijing
Horizon Law Firm, who has taken on numerous cases involving involuntary
psychiatric commitment.

"The whole psychiatric hospital system is commercialised, and as long as
payment continues, the patient cannot leave without the permission of
the sender. Even if there is a medical decision that the person is ready
to leave they can't until the sender settles the bill.

In the case of Xu Lindong, even with the huge pressure from the media,
the hospital did not make the discharge decision, nor did he, his family
or his lawyer, but officials from the local government department that
sent him to hospital."

In addition to psychiatric hospitals under the Ministry of Health there
are at least 23 known Ankang (literally "safety and health") maximum
security forensic hospitals under the control of the Public Security Bureau.

All staff are police officers, including the psychiatrists and nurses,
and there is no professional separation of custody and treatment.

Use of psychiatric hospitals for political suppression has been a
longstanding practice in China since the 1950s when Soviet experts were
invited in to establish China's psychiatric hospital system based on the
Soviet model, says Robin Munro, deputy director of Hong Kong based non-
government organisation China Labour Bulletin, who has extensively
researched political abuse of psychiatry in China.

"Ankang hospitals were used to incarcerate real political dissidents,
but according to my data in the early 1990s there was a shift and the
target switched to petitioners, persistent complainers and corruption
whistleblowers," he says.

"I've documented numerous cases of incarceration of people who have
sought independent medical evaluation to prove that they are mentally
entirely normal, and this is happening more and more often."

Financial pressures are at play in the Ankang hospitals too, says Huang.

"Because there are not enough patients coming from the criminal system,
they also recruit patients from the wider community."

International response to political abuse of psychiatry in China has so
far been muted.

[end excerpts]

The article is online at:

Ken Pope


"The world did know and remained silent.  And that is why I swore never
to be silent when and wherever human beings endure suffering and
humiliation.  We must always take sides.  Neutrality helps the
oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never
the tormented.  Sometimes we must interfere.  When human lives are
endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and
sensitivities become irrelevant.  Wherever men and women are persecuted
because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must --
at that moment -- become the center of the universe."
--Elie Wiesel

ha en trevlig sommar, etzel


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