If you have depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or another mental health condition, you are protected against discrimination and harassment at work because of your condition, you have workplace privacy rights, and you may have a legal right to get reasonable accommodations that can help you perform and keep your job. The following questions and answers briefly explain these rights, which are provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). You may also have additional rights under other laws not discussed here, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and various medical insurance laws.
No. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you simply because you have a mental health condition. This includes firing you, rejecting you for a job or promotion, or forcing you to take leave.
In his book Punitive Medicine (1979) Alexander Podrabinek defined the term "punitive medicine", which is identified with "punitive psychiatry," as "a tool in the struggle against dissidents who cannot be punished by legal means." Punitive psychiatry is neither a discrete subject nor a psychiatric specialty but, rather, it is an emergency arising within many applied sciences in totalitarian countries where members of a profession may feel themselves compelled to serve the diktats of power. 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.
The diagnosis of mental disease can give the state license to detain persons against their will and insist upon therapy both in the interest of the detainee and in the broader interests of society. In addition, receiving a psychiatric diagnosis can itself be regarded as oppressive. In a monolithic state, psychiatry can be used to bypass standard legal procedures for establishing guilt or innocence and allow political incarceration without the ordinary odium attaching to such political trials.
A crime is a deviation from generally recognized standards of behavior frequently caused by mental disorder. Can there be diseases, nervous disorders among certain people in a Communist society? Evidently yes. If that is so, then there will also be offences, which are characteristic of people with abnormal minds. Of those who might start calling for opposition to Communism on this basis, we can say that clearly their mental state is not normal.
Andropov was in charge of the wide-ranging deployment of psychiatric repression from the moment he was appointed to head the KGB. He became KGB Chairman on 18 May 1967. On 3 July 1967, he made a proposal to establish a Fifth Directorate (ideological counterintelligence) within the KGB to deal with internal political opposition to the Soviet regime. The Directorate was set up at the end of July and took charge of KGB files on all Soviet dissidents, including Andrei Sakharov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. In 1968, KGB Chairman Andropov issued a departmental order "On the tasks of State security agencies in combating the ideological sabotage by the adversary", calling for the KGB to struggle against dissidents and their imperialist masters. His aim was "the destruction of dissent in all its forms" and he insisted that the positions of the capitalist countries on human rights, and their criticisms of the Soviet Union and its own politics of human rights from these positions, was just one part of a wide-ranging imperialist plot to undermine the Soviet state's foundation. Similar ideas can be found in the 1983 book Speeches and Writings by Andropov published when he had become General Secretary of the CPSU:
On 29 April 1969, Andropov submitted an elaborate plan to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to set up a network of mental hospitals that would defend the "Soviet Government and the socialist order" from dissenters. To persuade his fellow Politburo members of the risk posed by the mentally ill, Andropov circulated a report from the Krasnodar Region. A secret resolution of the USSR Council of Ministers was adopted. Andropov's proposal to use psychiatry for struggle against dissenters was adopted and implemented.
Political dissidents were usually charged under Articles 70 (agitation and propaganda against the Soviet state) and 190-1 (dissemination of false fabrications defaming the Soviet state and social system) of the RSFSR Criminal Code. Forensic psychiatrists were asked to examine offenders whose mental state was considered abnormal by the investigating officers.
In the 1960s, a vigorous movement grew up protesting against abuse of psychiatry in the USSR. Political abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union was denounced in the course of the Congresses of the World Psychiatric Association in Mexico City (1971), Hawaii (1977), Vienna (1983) and Athens (1989). The campaign to terminate political abuse of psychiatry in the USSR was a key episode in the Cold War, inflicting irretrievable damage on the prestige of medicine in the Soviet Union.
According to Viktor Luneyev, the struggle against dissent operated on many more layers than those registered in court sentences. We do not know how many the secret services kept under surveillance, held criminally liable, arrested, sent to psychiatric hospitals, or who were sacked from their jobs, and restricted in all kinds of other ways in the exercise of their rights. No objective assessment of the total number of repressed persons is possible without fundamental analysis of archival documents. The difficulty is that the required data are very diverse and are not to be found in a single archive. They are scattered between the State Archive of the Russian Federation, the archive of the Russian Federation State Statistical Committee (Goskomstat), the archives of the RF Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD of Russia), the FSB of Russia, the RF General Prosecutor's Office, and the Russian Military and Historical Archive. Further documents are held in the archives of 83 constituent entities of the Russian Federation, in urban and regional archives, as well as in the archives of the former Soviet Republics, now the 11 independent countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States or the three Baltic States (Baltics).
An example of the low threshold is a point of Donetsk psychiatrist Valentine Pekhterev, who argues that psychiatrists speak of the necessity of adapting oneself to society, estimate the level of man's social functioning, his ability to adequately test the reality and so forth. In Pekhterev's words, these speeches hit point-blank on the dissidents and revolutionaries, because all of them are poorly functioning in society, are hardly adapting to it either initially or after increasing requirements. They turn their inability to adapt themselves to society into the view that the company breaks step and only they know how to help the company restructure itself. The dissidents regard the cases of personal maladjustment as a proof of public ill-being. The more such cases, the easier it is to present their personal ill-being as public one. They bite the society's hand that feed them only because they are not given a right place in society. Unlike the dissidents, the psychiatrists destroy the hardly formed defense attitude in the dissidents by regarding "public well-being" as personal one. The psychiatrists extract teeth from the dissidents, stating that they should not bite the feeding hand of society only because the tiny group of the dissidents feel bad being at their place. The psychiatrists claim the need to treat not society but the dissidents and seek to improve society by preserving and improving the mental health of its members. After reading the book Institute of Fools by Viktor Nekipelov, Pekhterev concluded that allegations against the psychiatrists sounded from the lips of a negligible but vociferous part of inmates who when surfeiting themselves with cakes pretended to be sufferers.
According to the response by Robert van Voren, Pekhterev in his article condescendingly argues that the Serbsky Institute was not so bad place and that Nekipelov exaggerates and slanders it, but Pekhterev, by doing so, misses the main point: living conditions in the Serbsky Institute were not bad, those who passed through psychiatric examination there were in a certain sense "on holiday" in comparison with the living conditions of the Gulag; and all the same, everyone was aware that the Serbsky Institute was more than the "gates of hell" from where people were sent to specialized psychiatric hospitals in Chernyakhovsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Kazan, Blagoveshchensk, and that is not all. Their life was transformed to unimaginable horror with daily tortures by forced administration of drugs, beatings and other forms of punishment. Many went crazy, could not endure what was happening to them, some even died during the "treatment" (for example, a miner from Donetsk Alexey Nikitin). Many books and memoirs are written about the life in the psychiatric Gulag and every time when reading them a shiver seizes us. The Soviet psychiatric terror in its brutality and targeting the mentally ill as the most vulnerable group of society had nothing on the Nazi euthanasia programs. The punishment by placement in a mental hospital was as effective as imprisonment in Mordovian concentration camps in breaking persons psychologically and physically. The recent history of the USSR should be given a wide publicity to immunize society against possible repetitions of the Soviet practice of political abuse of psychiatry. The issue remains highly relevant.
K. Fulford, A. Smirnov, and E. Snow state: "An important vulnerability factor, therefore, for the abuse of psychiatry, is the subjective nature of the observations on which psychiatric diagnosis currently depends." The concerns about political abuse of psychiatry as a tactic of controlling dissent have been regularly voiced by American psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, and he mentioned that these authors, who correctly emphasized the value-laden nature of psychiatric diagnoses and the subjective character of psychiatric classifications, failed to accept the role of psychiatric power. Musicologists, drama critics, art historians, and many other scholars also create their own subjective classifications; however, lacking state-legitimated power over persons, their classifications do not lead to anyone's being deprived of property, liberty, or life. For instance, plastic surgeon's classification of beauty is subjective, but the plastic surgeon cannot treat his or her patient without the patient's consent, therefore, there cannot be any political abuse of plastic surgery. The bedrock of political medicine is coercion masquerading as medical treatment. What transforms coercion into therapy are physicians diagnosing the person's condition an "illness," declaring the intervention they impose on the victim a "treatment," and legislators and judges legitimating these categorizations as "illnesses" and "treatments." In the same way, physician-eugenicists advocated killing certain disabled or ill persons as a form of treatment for both society and patient long before the Nazis came to power. Szasz argued that the spectacle of the Western psychiatrists loudly condemning Soviet colleagues for their abuse of professional standards was largely an exercise in hypocrisy. Psychiatric abuse, such as people usually associated with practices in the former USSR, was connected not with the misuse of psychiatric diagnoses, but with the political power built into the social role of the psychiatrist in democratic and totalitarian societies alike. Psychiatrically and legally fit subjects for involuntary mental hospitalization had always been "dissidents." It is the contents and contours of dissent that has changed. Before the American Civil War, dissent was constituted by being a Negro and wanting to escape from slavery. In Soviet Russia, dissent was constituted by wanting to "reform" Marxism or emigrate to escape from it. As Szasz put it, "the classification by slave owners and slave traders of certain individuals as Negroes was scientific, in the sense that whites were rarely classified as blacks. But that did not prevent the "abuse" of such racial classification, because (what we call) its abuse was, in fact, its use." The collaboration between psychiatry and government leads to what Szasz calls the "Therapeutic State", a system in which disapproved actions, thoughts, and emotions are repressed ("cured") through pseudomedical interventions. Thus suicide, unconventional religious beliefs, racial bigotry, unhappiness, anxiety, shyness, sexual promiscuity, shoplifting, gambling, overeating, smoking, and illegal drug use are all considered symptoms or illnesses that need to be cured. 2b1af7f3a8