One flew over Kazanka's nest

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One flew over Kazanka's nest
One flew over Kazanka's nest

Kazanka, or Kazan prison psychiatric hospital of the NKVD of the USSR. A very secret hospital of the Soviet punitive psychiatry. The first in the "country of the happiest workers." First in the world. The neutralization of the unwanted by means of cerebralism, however, was always and everywhere. And in the USA, and in China, and in Germany.


Under many totalitarian regimes. Why is there - when there were no regimes. During the beginning of the violent Christianization of Russia and the centralization of state power, for example. Not for the sake of self-interest, but by the decree of the Kiev prince Vladimir (996), dissidents were placed in monasteries. Already at the end of the 11th century, “strong dungeons” appeared in the monasteries of Kiev for especially violent ones. But that was, of course, not psychiatry - only "a storehouse of absolute truth", that is, the word of God.

Psychiatry as such appeared only at the beginning of the 19th century. And immediately attracted the attention of the "rulers of the Russian land." After reading the famous "Philosophical Letter" by Peter Chaadaev, Nicholas I imposed a resolution: "After reading the article, I find that its content is a mixture of impudent nonsense, worthy of the insane …" The gendarmerie reacted instantly, declaring the rebel-philosopher insane.

It is believed that any totalitarian regime in general is the first condition for the existence of punitive psychiatry. The more despotic the power, the more control it needs and the more paranoia it is gripped by. And there is nothing more effective than using psychiatry - an incomprehensible, vague area for the majority, where norm and pathology are often inseparable from each other. It's so convenient to catch dissenters in troubled waters.

Another condition is the close connection between psychiatry and politics, the absence of an appropriate legal framework regulating psychiatric care in the country. Add to this the ideologization of science, the breakaway from the achievements of world psychiatry, the use of powerful drugs that cause severe side effects, etc. And voila - the field is ready for cultivating punitive brain science.

Classics of the genre

Of course, the "dump truck". In the sense of the USSR. Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky is considered the founding father, the founder of punitive psychiatry in the Land of the Soviets. His first victim was Maria Spiridonova, a terrorist revolutionary, leader of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries. In 1921, Iron Felix wrote to Samsonov, the head of the Cheka's Secret Department: “We need to get in touch with Obukh and Semashka (the main medical functionaries of the Bolsheviks. - NS) to place Spiridonova in a psychiatric home, but on the condition that she is not stolen or escaped from there. Security and surveillance should have been organized sufficient, but in a disguised form. The sanatorium should be such that it would be difficult to escape from it also due to technical conditions. When you find one and outline a specific plan, report to me."


And the functionaries reported: "Hysterical psychosis, a serious condition, life-threatening." The diagnosis was made by the luminary of Russian psychiatry, Professor Pyotr Ganushkin, who is always "ready for services." But en masse the "58s" (those who passed the 58th article) began to reeducate only since 1935, when the "special corps" of the Kazan psychiatric hospital was formed, which since 1939 has passed into the full subordination of the NKVD …

Comrade, believe!

She will pass -

Both democracy and glasnost.

And that's when the state security

Will remember your names.


And then the Institute of Forensic Psychiatry named after V.I. Serbian. The one who practiced the method of caffeine-barbiturate disinhibition.He acted like this: first, the patient was put into a state of inhibition, and then, during the forensic examination, he became talkative, like a magpie. Later, the institute began its own development of medications that blunt self-control over the statements of those who underwent forensic medical examination. And many passed it, and then ended up directly in hospital beds. A hospital, however, could hardly be called a hospital. According to Sergei Pisarev, a member of the CPSU, a propagandist of the Sverdlovsk District Committee of the CPSU in Moscow, Sergei Pisarev, patients could not see their relatives, they could not even go out into the corridor, the cells were locked, there were bars on the windows, behind them were booths with dogs and hundreds of jailers. Psychiatrists are “morally corrupted people, accomplices in the reprisal of innocent people. They are not engaged in any treatment. All the time is spent on spying and scribbling."


The cells were extremely crowded, even one person could not pass between the beds, so the prisoners had to sit or lie on their bunks all the time in a terrible stuffy atmosphere. There were also no toilets. When needed, it was possible to go only at a time determined by the administration and in a few minutes strictly stipulated for everyone. Political were kept separately - exclusively with rapists and murderers, mentally retarded, as well as suffering from catatonic agitation and other dangerous diseases. The prisoners had to observe all this for years.

But the psychiatric punitive machine reached a truly union scale in the 1960s. The network of TPB (prison psychiatric hospitals) grew: one after another they appeared in St. Petersburg, Minsk, Smolensk region, Dnepropetrovsk, Orel, etc.


One of the famous TPB patients, Joseph Brodsky, recalled how the so-called "trick" was applied to him: “I was given terrible injections of tranquilizers. In the middle of the night they were awakened, immersed in an ice bath, wrapped in a wet sheet and placed next to the radiator. The heat of the batteries dried up the sheet and cut into the body … When sulfur is injected into you, even the movement of the little finger causes incredible pain. This is done in order to slow you down, to stop you, so that you can do absolutely nothing, you cannot move. Usually sulfur is pricked by violent ones when they start to rush and scandal. But, besides, the nurses and nurses are just having fun in this way. I remember, in this mental hospital there were young guys with jumps, simply morons. And the nurses began to tease them. That is, they turned them on, as they say, in an erotic way. And as soon as these guys started to get up, the nurses immediately appeared and began to twist them and inject sulfur."

Medical record

“She tolerates enema well. Swears in a whisper. " T-4

"Operation Tiergartenstrasse 4". The famous killing program in Nazi Germany. This is where punitive psychiatry took off in full swing. Mass sterilization (300 thousand people were subjected to it) and mass murders (70 thousand people) were the main methods of psychiatrists during the Third Reich. But the matter was not limited to the real insane. The introduction of the term "dementia in disguise" untied the hands of the Nazi doctors who expanded genetic theories about dementia. From now on, the communists, pacifists and democrats fell under it. And also homosexuals.


In them Heinrich Himmler saw the "death of the nation". According to his estimates, in Germany in 1937 there were from 1 to 2 million homosexuals, that is, 7-10% of the country's male population. However, homosexuals were not considered as objects of complete destruction. They were only subject to "re-education" and "treatment", and only those who did not succumb to this, death awaited. True, soon the legislation was tightened and it was decided to castrate men with homosexual inclinations and send them to concentration camps. Interestingly, the attitude towards lesbians was much softer.It was believed that the non-traditional orientation of women is not a hindrance to the birth of "genetically complete" Aryan children.

In psychiatric hospitals, they simply killed: poisoned or banal did not give food. Sometimes, however, the quantity and quality of food in the diet was gradually reduced, which led to a long and painful death.

The killing program also included "social parasites" - sick people suffering from any ailment for more than five years, disabled people, terminally ill children, alcoholics, drug addicts, criminals, homeless people and beggars. And even soldiers returning to Germany with serious injuries. And, of course, the Jews. And, in general, all "untermensch".

One of the punishers was the well-known "angel of death" Josef Mengele, a doctor who worked in the Auschwitz concentration camp. He became famous for anatomizing living babies, castrating boys and men without anesthesia, exposing women to high voltage shocks in order to determine their endurance, injecting various chemicals into the eyes of children in an attempt to change their color, amputating organs and stitching twins together.

Bad example

The traditions of Chinese punitive psychiatry developed under the influence of the USSR. Its use, however, was widespread during the Cultural Revolution, in 1966-1976, and then declined, only to rise again by the early 2000s.

The researcher of Chinese history Robin Munro claims that since the end of the last century - the beginning of this century, at least 3 thousand Chinese (not counting members of Falun Gong, a religious movement banned in the PRC) who are opposed to the government have ended up in mental hospitals.


The English newspaper The Guardian writes: "As soon as a police officer or civilian psychiatrist declares someone mentally ill, the patient loses all legal rights and can be held indefinitely." And according to Chinese human rights activist Zhang Zanying, who was interviewed by the New York Epoch Times in 2010, cases of the use of psychiatry for political purposes are occurring in the Middle Kingdom more and more often.

The US State Department's annual report on human rights in China states that "among the prisoners in psychiatric hospitals in the PRC are politicians, trade unionists, members of Christian home churches, and appellants …"


“The expression“punitive psychiatry”associatively refers us to the use of psychiatry as a means of political repression in the Soviet Union,” says the famous St. Petersburg psychoanalyst Dmitry Olshansky. - Human rights activists explain this phenomenon by the totalitarian system, when the GULAG ceased to exist, but the regime still had to somehow isolate dissent and dissent. However, we know that punitive psychiatry did not exist only under totalitarian regimes. For example, in the United States in the 19th century, such a psychiatric disease as "drapetomania" was scientifically described, which supposedly existed only among representatives of the Negroid race and prompted slaves to flee. In other words, an attempt to gain freedom could be diagnosed as a psychiatric illness requiring treatment. Today it seems to us blatant racism and the most severe abuse of psychiatry.

In St. Petersburg there is a remarkable clinic of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker on Pryazhka, where 150 participants of the Polish uprising of 1830 were placed. All of them were diagnosed with violent insanity. These and many other examples refute the hypothesis that punitive psychiatry develops exclusively in totalitarian countries, where there are no civil rights, and society is gripped by the paranoia of fighting external and internal enemies.

In my opinion, the psychiatric discourse itself, as it was formed in the history of civilization, is conducive to punitive procedures, regardless of the regime, political system and the presence of civil liberties.

Thanks to Michel Foucault, we know that the psychiatric and penitentiary systems evolved simultaneously as disciplinary social practices. Attempts to control the behavior of the body and the movement of the mind in human history have gone hand in hand. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that psychiatry was originally formed as a corrective practice and was closer to the punishment system than to the healing system. If we look at the first psychiatric clinics, we find that they were located, as a rule, in former prisons. If we turn our attention to the early theoretical works on psychiatry, we find there a discourse of training and suppression rather than a discourse of healing and adaptation.

The patient was considered healthy if he obeyed the will of the doctors, accepted their point of view and shared their beliefs, the one who, thanks to the doctors, was able to suppress his sick fantasies and begin to think as the doctor suggests. Therefore, scientists often used such expressions as "suppress the disease", "tame the disease", "subordinate the patient's consciousness to his will" and similar metaphors of training. That is, the mind of a mentally ill person was perceived by doctors not as a phenomenon that needed supervision and support (as, for example, in chronic somatic diseases), but as something that needed to be localized, suppressed and subordinated to their will. For example, to adapt the patient to reality or teach him to coexist without conflict with the outside world was out of the question. There was only one goal - to force the patient to accept the model of reality that doctors preach. This was considered the criterion for cure. In other words, psychiatry was originally formed as a disciplinary rather than a medical practice.

This fact created colossal obstacles for both the theoretical and clinical development of psychiatry, which became possible only when the psychiatric paradigm changed and this science acquired a clear outline, a clear subject field and began to deal exclusively with the treatment of the brain, and not attempts to transform and establish control. over the subject. Only in recent decades has medical technology allowed us to study the brain enough to track the effect of drugs on certain centers and be sure of their effectiveness. And only then, from the practice of suppression and punishment, psychiatry began to move to the practice of supervision, support and adaptation.

Paradoxical as it may seem, the development of medical technologies, in-depth study of the brain made it possible to involve psychiatry in solving medical issues and to limit the subject of its research strictly to the field of physiology without trying to influence the sphere of subjectivity and the human mental apparatus. When psychiatry deals only with brain dysfunctions, does not invade the subject's sphere and try to influence the structure and institutions of the mental apparatus, only then can we be sure that there will be no room for punitive psychiatry.

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