At least 1,000 adherents have been subjected to psychiatric torture in Chinese mental hospitals, though the actual figure is likely many times higher, likely far exceeding the number of dissidents politically persecuted in mental asylums during the Stalinist era.
In the PRC’s psychiatric wards, the Falun Gong are injected with unknown psychotropic drugs in toxic doses. Some report having been used as guinea pigs and falling into prolonged periods of hallucinations after being injected. Others have suffered severe damage to their central nervous system from the injections. Yet others – mentally healthy when forced into the hospital for political reasons – became deranged after being “treated” there.
Much groundbreaking work in exposing this abuse of psychiatry has been carried out by Robin Munro. In his 2006 book, China’s Psychiatric Inquisition: Dissent, Psychiatry and the Law in Post-1949 China, Munro dedicates a chapter to the issue of psychiatric persecution of the Falun Gong in China.
The psychiatric abuses of the Falun Gong and others who have been branded insane for insisting on views not in accord with that of the Communist Party, are well documented and have been ongoing under the current regime for decades. Organizations such as the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), Human Rights Watch, and the Geneva Psychiatric Treatment Committee have reported on it; the WPA sought to investigate the abuses of Falun Gong in Chinese mental wards but has been repeatedly denied access.
Torture in mental hospitals serves two primary purposes for the Communist Party. First, it aims to discredit Falun Gong by making its adherents appear demented. Second, it allows for severe forms of punishment and a potential solution for handling those viewed as hardcore adherents who stubbornly refuse to transform.
The tools of psychiatry – including electric shock, sedatives, and other drugs – are turned on Falun Gong detainees as a means of torture and manipulation.
Beyond the asylum’s walls, these methods have found their way and into the hands of police and prison guards. Amnesty International has reported how one Beijing police spokesman connected to these hospitals, when questioned about these abuses, explained: “They are not patients, they are here to be re-educated… Most of them are Falun Gong extremists who have been to Beijing to protest.”
Below is one example of the experiences the Falun Gong have faced in psychiatric hospitals follows:
We were held in the Xuzhou City Mental Hospital for over three months. We were forcibly tied to a bed and the so-called medical staff gave us injections and forced “medicine” down our throats. They injected us with unknown drugs as well. We passed out and were unconscious shortly after receiving the injections.
When the injections were taking effect, we suffered from extreme pain. It was so severe that we writhed in pain, cried out miserably, and slammed ourselves against walls in a desperate attempt to knock ourselves unconscious in order to be rid of the pain.
After the injections’ affect wore off, we questioned the medical staff, “Why did you give injections and other harmful substances to us even though we are perfectly healthy?” They replied with shame, “We have no choice. It’s per instructions from above. We have to obey our leaders if we want to keep our jobs. We don’t want to treat you this way, but we don’t want to lose our job.”
— Testimony of a Falun Gong practitioner from Xuzhou City (from “Investigative Report on Spiritual Persecution of Falun Gong Practitioners,” WOIPFG)