In the Soviet Union, systematic political abuse of psychiatry took place. Political abuse of psychiatry is the misuse of psychiatric diagnosis, detention and treatment for the purposes of obstructing the fundamental human rights of certain groups and individuals in a society. In other words, abuse of psychiatry including one for political purposes is deliberate action of getting citizens certified, who, because of their mental condition, need neither psychiatric restraint nor psychiatric treatment. Many authors, including psychiatrists, use the terms "Soviet political psychiatry" and "punitive psychiatry" instead. In the book Punitive Medicine by Alexander Podrabinek, the term “punitive medicine” identified with the term “punitive psychiatry” is defined as “a tool in the struggle against dissidents who cannot be punished by legal means.”:63 Punitive psychiatry is not a special subject, not some special psychiatry but a phenomenon arising with many applied sciences in totalitarian countries where they are often forced to serve a criminal regime.
Psychiatric confinement of sane people is uniformly considered a particularly pernicious form of repression and Soviet punitive psychiatry was one of the key weapons of both illegal and legal repression. Soviet psychiatric hospitals were used by the authorities as prisons in order to isolate hundreds or thousands of political prisoners from the rest of society, discredit their ideas, and break them physically and mentally. This method was also employed against religious prisoners, including especially well-educated former atheists who adopted a religion; in such cases their religious faith was determined to be a form of mental illness that needed to be cured.
Following the fall of the Soviet Union, it was often reported that some opposition activists and journalists were detained in Russian psychiatric institutions in order to intimidate and isolate them from society. In modern Russia, the fact that a person is a human rights defender again means that the person risks receiving a psychiatric diagnosis.
Ronald David Laing B. 7 October 1927 – d. 23 August 1989
R.D. Laing (1927 – 1989) was a Scottishpsychiatrist who wrote extensively on mental illness – in particular, the experience of psychosis. Laing's views on the causes and treatment of serious mental dysfunction, greatly influenced by existential philosophy, ran counter to the psychiatric orthodoxy of the day by taking the expressed feelings of the individual patient or client as valid descriptions of lived experience rather than simply as symptoms of some separate or underlying disorder. Laing was associated with the anti-psychiatry movement, although he rejected the label. Politically, he was regarded as a thinker of the New Left.