The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

Assertive Chinese Held in Mental Wards

Here is another article from The New York Times about the treatment  Chinese dissidents.  It seems that in China, if you do not agree with the government, you could end up living in a mental institution.

Here in this country, we have managed to criminalize our mentally ill, but China wants to stigmatize and label their so called “criminals”.   Both ways are horrific.  As human beings, we should all care about this issue.  No one deserves to be locked away at the whim of a government, but no one deserves to be locked away because they have an illness.

Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that having a mental illness is no excuse for criminal activity.  What I have a problem with is that we seem to lump both behaviors together in the same pot.   It seems that other countries have the same problems we have with this issue.  Won’t you read the article and respond?


Du Bin for The New York Times

Xu Lindong, at his home in Louhe, China, was imprisoned for six and a half years in two mental hospitals over a land dispute. He said he endured 54 electric-shock treatments.

Published: November 11, 2010
LOUHE, China — Xu Lindong, a poor village farmer with close-cropped hair and a fourth-grade education, knew nothing but decades of backbreaking labor. Even at age 50, the rope of muscles on his arms bespoke a lifetime of hard plowing and harvesting in the fields of his native Henan Province.

    Doug Kanter for The New York Times

    Zhang Guizhi was wrongly confined to a mental hospital and said she was released a year later only after her daughter hired a lawyer.

    Readers’ Comments

    Readers shared their thoughts on this article.

    But after four years locked up in Zhumadian Psychiatric Hospital, he was barely recognizable to his siblings. Emaciated, barefoot, clad in tattered striped pajamas, Mr. Xu spoke haltingly. His face was etched with exhaustion.

    “I was so heartbroken when I saw him I cannot describe it,” said his elder brother, Xu Linfu, recalling his first visit there, in 2007. “My brother was a strong as a bull. Now he looked like a hospital patient.”

    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.

    He was finally released in April, after six and a half years in Zhumadian and a second mental institution. In an interview, he said he had endured 54 electric-shock treatments, was repeatedly roped to his bed and was routinely injected with drugs powerful enough to make him swoon. Fearing he would be left permanently disabled, he said, he attempted suicide three times.

    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.

    “The police know that to arbitrarily detain someone is illegal. They have to worry about that now,” said Huang Xuetao, a lawyer in Shenzhen, in Guangdong Province, who specializes in mental health law. “But officials have discovered this big hole in the psychiatric system, and they are increasingly taking advantage of it.”

    Worse, Ms. Huang said, the government squanders its meager health care resources confining harmless petitioners like Mr. Xu while neglecting people desperately in need of help.

    She and a colleague recently analyzed 300 news reports involving people who had been hospitalized for mental illness and others who had not. “Those who needed to be treated were not and those who should not have been treated were treated and guarded,” their study concluded.

    Liu Feiyue, the founder of Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch, a Chinese human-rights organization, said his group had compiled a database of more than 200 Chinese citizens who were wrongly committed to mental hospitals in the past decade after they filed grievances — called petitions in China — against the government.

    He said he suspected that the real number was much higher because his organization’s list was compiled mostly from accounts on the Internet.

    “The government has no place to put these people,” he said.

    China no longer discloses how many petitioners seek redress, but the government estimated in 2004 that more than 10 million people write or visit the government with petitions each year. Only two in a thousand complaints are resolved, according to research cited in a study this year by Tsinghua University in Beijing.

    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.

    Classified as Crazy

    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…[read the rest of this article]

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    November 24, 2010 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , , , ,


    1. Hi, I haven’t read the article, not because I don’t care, but I don’t think it will tell me anything I don’t already know, essentially.

      I found it while looking at the mental health blog tags, looking for my own post a few hours ago.

      I’m in the UK. No, sorry, I’m in Bulgaria, but the UK is my home.

      Would you please take a little time to look at my blog, which is nowhere near as attractive and well-ordered as yours. It is also not well-tagged. But if you don’t know already, I hope it will give you some idea that this isn’t just China.

      I offended a church and have been stalked by them ever since, and also have a diagnosis of schizophrenia which they load with bullets and shoot whenever they want to. When I say ‘they’, I mean media, both secular and Christian, and the government.

      I know this kind of belief is regarded as a symptom of schizophrenia, but I know the personal material they use and how it is woven.

      Comment by suebarnett | November 24, 2010 | Reply

    2. […] read the rest here or […]

      Pingback by Re-blog on Assertive Chinese Held in Mental Wards « Understanding China, One Blog at a Time | March 7, 2011 | Reply

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