The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 50.0°F | Partly Cloudy

Chinese Dissident Has No Mental Problems, Psychiatrists Conclude

By Joseph Kahn


Dutch psychiatrists have determined that a prominent Chinese dissident who spent 13 years in a police-run psychiatric institution in Beijing did not have mental problems that would justify his incarceration, two human rights groups said on Thursday.

The psychiatrists spent two days testing the dissident, Wang Wanxing, in Germany five months after China released him and sent him abroad. They said in a statement that their examination “did not reveal any form of mental disorder.”

The report could add fuel to charges that the Chinese police use a network of psychiatric prisons to silence political dissidents, often without trial or right of appeal.

Wang, now 56, was confined to the psychiatric center after he was detained in 1992 for unfurling a banner that criticized the Communist Party.

The authorities determined that he had “delusions of grandeur, litigation mania, and conspicuously enhanced pathological will,” which Western human rights groups say are diagnoses that officials have used to lock up troublesome dissidents who have not broken any laws.

After his release in 2005, Wang described widespread abuses in the mental asylum, known as the Beijing Ankang. He said he had lived in cells with psychotically disturbed inmates convicted of murder and was forced to swallow drugs to blunt his will. He also said the staff members had used electrified acupuncture needles to punish patients while other inmates were made to watch.

The two Dutch doctors, B.C.M. Raes, a professor of forensic psychiatry at the Free University of Amsterdam, and B.B. van der Meer, also a forensic psychiatrist, examined Wang in January. Their findings were released Thursday by the Global Initiative of Psychiatry and Human Rights Watch, two human rights groups that have been critical of China’s use of psychiatric prisons.