, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 3-17

Psychiatry under tyranny: A report on the political abuse of Romanian psychiatry during the ceausescu years

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Abstract

Romanians suffered incredible deprivations of every sort during the decades of Communist dictatorship. Most of the country’s 1,000 psychiatrists, and most of their patients, were victimized by the political system. A few psychiatrists actively engaged in practices amounting to torture. Many, however, became willing or unwilling participants in the political abuse of their profession.

Such political abuses were fostered by abusive legislation and abusive law enforcement by the secret police. Abuses included: mass detentions in psychiatric hospitals of dissidents and political undesirables; abusive interpretation of the laws in detaining persons not suffering from mental illness; false, politically motivated diagnoses and treatment; and detention in secret facilities.

While there are honest efforts to come to grips with the past, to compensate victims of psychiatric abuse, and to institute proceedings against abusers, there is also much resistance to reform. Reform-minded Romanian psychiatrists deserve the support of their western colleagues in the effort to restore Romanian psychiatry. In particular, professional colleagues all over the world are asked to comment on the draft law currently pending before the Romanian parliament, which is intended to restore the rule of law to the practice of psychiatry in Romania.

Report of a consultative mission to Bucharest, on behalf of the Geneva Initiave on Psychiatry, 7 June to 12 June 1992, by Nanci Adler, Historian-Sovietologist, Geneva Initiative on Psychiatry, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; G.O.W. Mueller, Distinguished Professor of Criminal Justice, Rutgers — The State University of New Jersey, U.S.A.; Mohammed Ayat, Professor of Criminology and Penal Law, Université de Fes, Faculté des Sciences Juridiques, Economiques et Sociales, FEs, Morocco.
The Geneva Initiative on Psychiatry is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization, dedicated to the introduction and preservation of ethical practices in the psychiatric profession, in accordance with medical ethics, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and U.N. standards and guidelines. Headquartered in Amsterdam, the organization is currently providing technical and financial assistance to the newly established free, independent, democratic psychiatric associations in Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and other countries. The General Secretary of the organization is Robert van Voren; the board is composed of professionals from some twenty countries.
This article was based on meetings at governmental and parliamentary offices, nongovernmental organizations, and embassies as well psychiatric institutions with, among others, the following persons: Dr. Lucian Alexandrescu, V-P Radu Ciuceanu, Mr. Comsa, Proc. Gen’l. Ulpiu Cereceanu, Mr. Nistor Cristea, Mr. Dinu Ianculescu, Prof. Dr. George Ionescu, Miss Cristina Luzoscu, Dr. Zaharia Nicolae, Mr. Iancu Petrescu, Dr. Dan Prelipcianu, Min. Mircea Ionescu-Quintus, Dr. Aurel Romila, Av. Nicolae Stefanescu-Draganesti, Dir. Dr. Tomescu, Dr. Alexandru Trifan, Dr. Valeriu Tuculescu, and numerous victims, diplomats, and Romanian citizens.