psychiatry in russia

Please watch this, I’d love to hear (read) your thoughts; it’s only 13mins long.

Psychiatry in Russia (Albert Maysles, 1955)

Albert Maysels, the director, died on the 6th of this month, aged 88. I found the New York Times obituary really interesting. I found the short documentary utterly startling – I won’t tell you why, because spoilers. And I really do want to hear your reactions.


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battlescarred, bright, bewildered, bent, blue & bipolar

19 thoughts on “psychiatry in russia”

  1. I’m not going to ask how or why you found this topic. But I’m going to Russia lol I want that kind looking psychiatrist…and yes, they are all women! But 20:1 and 6:1 ratios, wow! And I want to be carried on a stretcher outside in the garden, just teasing, well not really. But compassion and kindness that wouldn’t be found in the US. I wonder what it’s like now?! And if there was a surprise at the end in the last 2 minutes my YouTube cut out and I only saw up to the little brother boy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No surprise at the end :)

      And I only found it because the director died recently.

      I’d also really like to know what it’s like now … saw this sometime last year – more recent, but about mentally ill criminals. It also surprised me, in that they weren’t jailed the way people are (for example) in the UK.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks very much for that link – as tragic as it is (and oh boy it is tragic), it was good for me to see that level of belief, commitment and compassion in the staff. The stuff I usually see about mentally ill people in American prisons is terrifying … I spoke to another blogger whose brother was ill, a prisoner and spent something like a month in solitary as soon as he was jailed. Lots more to admire in the Diane Sawyer thing.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. I watched this too. The other one is pretty far back, I doubt if that illusion still holds. Good for what it was though. Maybe it still is in some areas and as much as resources allow? I stop here, and rather read what more versed others have to say about it all. Thanks for researching and sharing as usual friend.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You blow my mind so early today. Starting with the fact that treatment were only for the seriously ill that’s enough for me. I rest my case… Neuroscience Vs Freud? Anytime; (For me of course.) I don’t think in Russia will ever officially make a correlation between the environment, meaning any Russian regime, and mental health. My country has a good health care since I can remember. Most of the times you pay very little fee in loco, and totally free if your unemployed, like me now due to health problems. I’m not surprise by the Russian ways, I’m not American, I don’t see them the same way… Never the less, they sure look a lot more aware of the patients needs than we in the west. All my doctors want me on meds, they doubt my ability to manage my non seriously ill disorder, because I say so. There’s this culture that anybody who has a mental illness can’t walk around without taking all the meds +1 for the rest of our lives to assure the normies and the pharmaceutical companies that we are good sheep and we do as they told when a lot of don’t need meds for life. I still have one interesting question about Albert Maysels, how the hell did he get such authorization and for that long time in 55? Even now would be a problem… (Sorry, if there is any confused idea in my comment, I am still out of focus, can’t sleep well for days, I had to see the doc twice)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The how is interesting – he talks about it in this:

      Bulganin was the Russian leader and though he was ex Cheka and a Stalinist, he also sort of supported Kruschev’s reforms. So ja, things like healthcare’s correlation to whatever regime rules at the time … well, isn’t that conclusion only ever really drawn either outside of the country and/or in hindsight? There are always options of course, but they aren’t necessarily listened to at all.

      You know I’m not American either, right?

      Here there is more of a culture of psychology being essential than meds being essential. And of course, not everyone even has access to meds at all. I don’t feel sheep like about my meds – I control what I do and am always very active in the treatment process. I can’t afford not to be – literally, because it costs me a major part of my money every month. And no matter what meds I choose and refuse, I make sure I know which are helpful in preventing long term brain damage, early onset dementia and cortisol production (heart disease).

      Correlation between South African regimes and psychiatric care:
      Apartheid: racist, barbaric. Barbaric to all races (things like forced sex change for gay soldiers).
      ANC: things seemed positive under Mandela’s leadership, but since then, psych care declined – state systems are in place, but no first worlder would put up with it. State hospitals are inadequately equipped and tend to run out of meds completely sometimes.

      That said, we do have amazing professionals in both state and pvt sectors. I use the fuckall money I have incredibly carefully, so that I can pay for a psychiatrist plus meds. It’s the kindest and most efficient thing I can do for myself.

      I totally agree with you about neuroscience vs Freud. I’ve developed an attitude towards psychology like you have towards meds :) I make an exception for sensible things like CBT.

      Ahem. Now I rambled on lol. I hope you get some decent sleep soon.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I finally get all the attention in a comment from you LOL it feels great, thank you! (There are days were I need attention it feels less alone) I love debates and this one could go on and on and I have to go now lol. I know you’re not American I pay attention… I just feel for anybody who pays so much money for meds when here, when I was taking my meds I paid from 0,90cents, to nothing my (anti-psychotic). I only had one med (anti-depressant) for 2 months treatment 60 pills that cost 27 euros I think, so my refill would cost me less that 30 euros for at least two months.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. One of the few things I liked about the NHS in the UK, was free meds when unemployed and cheap meds otherwise. That wasn’t enough though, the rest of the care was truly inhumane. I don’t regret a cent of what I pay here, and maybe I value it highly because I really feel the cost. It HAS to work for me – or me and my money go elsewhere. I’m hard on my doctors lol.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. I usually would do ANYTHING you ask ASAP (well, almost, ha ha!), but I’m feeling very vulnerable today. I think I’ll take a rain check on watching this intriguing-looking doc.

    I’m vulnerable because….for the past three years, I thought I “only” had 7 hospitalizations. (My last three were in the summer of 2013) However, while doing some insurance paperwork, on Friday, my husband told me it’s more like 11 hospitalizations. That news really disturbed me and it brought up stuff about the trauma I experienced in those hospitals. Sigh.

    Anyway, I’m part Russian, and this doc. looks interesting and I may watch it later this week.
    In the meantime, sending you big hugs. I’m off to cuddle with Lucy, my freaky furball. She turns 1 on March 18th, the same day I turn 45. It’s kismet, I tell you! Xo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sweet Lucy!

      The russian thing is actually incredibly and astonishingly positive – but I am so glad you’re sensible about what you put yourself through when you’re feeling fragile.

      Very very very sorry to hear about the hospital trauma. I have enormous respect for you and also for the fact that you manage to stay in a relationship too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. thanks honey – it means so much to me to have your respect! I want to see you in a relationship with a kind lesbian soooooo much! Never say never, despite where you live. I’m rooting for it to happen!.

        You know, if those f*cking hospitals had animal therapy/visits, it would have been such a comfort. I’m still paying off four bills every month. The reminders will never end, and I need to somehow learn to cope better,. I’ve been told by a trauma expert that I definitely have PTSD from those times, which validated things for me, at least. Anyway, now I’d like to see the Russian doc. sooner rather than later! Positive = good!

        love, your fellow Monkey Mind (honestly I feel that way almost every day to varying degrees!!!)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Holy shit though … ptsd from a first world hospital is scary. Although perhaps not, I do know first hand that UK ones can be abysmal. Ptsd you have to pay for seems grossly unjust. Bastards.

          And ta but I am so fortunate to have what I do already :)


  4. This was very interesting. As well as hearing what they believed was the best approach for their patients. What really got to me is how kind the staff at these hospitals was and how they seemed to care, on a personal level. What blows me away is the fact that while stigma was much higher then, there was more humanity (at least presented here) than we have today. I have never seen this kindness in any psychiatric clinic or facility I’ve ever had the traumatic experience of passing, even as guest. How can we move forward only to move back in so many ways?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah that totally blew my mind too. And I wondered whether it was all a set up, because all govts are capable of skanky propaganda. But apparently he didn’t just go to approved places etc, he actually motorcycled around russia some. Wild, really … it was only a few years after Stalin died.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. …. Russian Doctors want what every other doctor wants… for their patient to get better, and become well. … Oh please. I spent a long time trawling various documentaries on psychiatry… and this one became my favourite: you may have seen it. It echoes what I felt already. The simplicity that is shown in the documentary you posted was through the eyes of one man… for a start – and it demonstrates that wherever you are – we are not encouraged to be self aware and understand our own genetics, social factors … etc. I spent 20 years being labelled incorrectly. I am not saying there is no place for medication and diagnostics. But the truth is, its all about money now. Hence my brushing of at the statement that like all doctors they want us to get better. No they fucking don’t. Where would the profit in that be? If you do some research about Russians mental hospitals now – it is a far cry different from what you watched. They are neglected on the most part and disinterested in the weakness and the irritation – so they are ‘kept’ behind closed doors. There is no rehabilitation. Serial killers are given the same roaming space as depressed children. I am passionate about this subject… and am a nuisance when my boyfriend or my brothers speak of it. I believe in CBT… and NOTHING ELSE. Too many drugs, too may hospitals, too many side effects, too many waiting rooms and a growing awareness that I was not a ‘wanted’ patient because I asked questions and kick back when I disagree. THAT personality trait even got diagnosed..

    You should watch the link I gave you. Yes, its long – but it is alarmingly open and exposes much.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing this! I was very surprised, actually! Albeit, I was “trained” via the Co$ that psychiatry was BRUTAL in Soviet Russia. Wow, wow! How amazing the truth is! I’m going to reblog this!

    Liked by 1 person

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