The Left's Psychiatric Weapon
It was from the 1940s through the 1970s, the height of the Cold War, that Soviet authorities notoriously politicized the field of psychiatry. One should always be very suspicious of any government official appealing directly to the “science.” Politicians know science like they know ethics. In 1963, Russian-Jewish poet and essayist Joseph Brodsky was twice placed in a psychiatric facility against his will and ultimately charged with the crime of “social parasitism” (according to the lawful authorities, not making sufficient contributions to society). He was eventually expelled from the country.
The Soviet government even went so far as to make up fictitious psychological illnesses like “sluggish schizophrenia” to justify the forcible psychiatric incarceration of people who committed no obvious wrongs but were simply brave enough to criticize the Soviet regime or to reject communism altogether. Not that governments making people into criminals for entirely contrived, inane, power-serving reasons is historically abnormal. Jesus of Nazareth was a famous criminal of course. So were Tresckow and von Stauffenberg. So were all the Founders. This is really quite normal for “law” and “order,” but adding the “crazy” element to the equation (placing people in institutions Russians came to call “psikhushkas”) was really the cherry on top. Using phony science to discredit and destroy enemies of the state for rejecting the state’s official ideology is a quintessentially lefto-Bolshevist tactic.
This is why it is quite interesting that our own government has now entered a very similar business, a softer form of politicizing lunacy to be sure, but no less absurd or sinister. You are all probably familiar with Stuart Scheller, the Marine who famously criticized the sloppy, poorly planned, poorly conceived Afghanistan withdrawal. Our corrupt government’s unconscionable treatment of the man has been nothing short of scandalous, throwing him in the brig, accusing him of a litany of crimes, and refusing to allow him to resign his post. However, what really jumped out at me was that to top it all off they demanded he get a “psychiatric evaluation.” There is absolutely no evidence or reason to think there is anything wrong with Col. Scheller psychologically. None. Zero. So why would the government order him to get a psych eval? Well, Scheller thought his superiors were trying to do him a solid, maybe get him diagnosed with PTSD so that he might be found less than fully (legally and otherwise) responsible for his public statements. I happen to think that is a very naive take.
This kind of thing is never done with good intentions. Governments are not benevolent entities. This was a tyrannical assault on the state’s critics, just as in the case of Brodsky, Grigorenko, and Solzhenitsyn. It is an attempt to discredit critics of power. The mention of a psychiatric evaluation taints the source of the ideas/critiques, and thereby strengthens the position of the state, especially states run by criminals.
Furthermore, and lamentably, this was not a one-off event. I have seen our government do this exact thing a number of times in recent years. They did it to many of the January 6th defendants. He was ultimately deemed perfectly mentally competent. It actually goes back a few decades if you must know, though it has really picked up steam in recent years. For example, something very similar was done to an outspoken right-wing law student at Temple University Law in the mid-1990s. Lincoln Herbert was a prominent conservative activist at Temple University Law, and he was a real thorn in the side of the left-wing faculty there. But that all was before the university suspended him in his 3L year for simply defending himself, with mace, from an armed black street thug who had followed him into the law school and was trying to rob him. When they suspended him, they also, you guessed it, ordered him to undergo a “psychiatric evaluation.” All because of his politics.
But more personally, it was done to me about a year ago. After local authorities charged me with a crime they knew I did not commit, this was something they stuck in the plea deal at the last minute (I refused to say I did anything criminal because I didn’t actually do anything criminal, and so I pled no contest to a petty offense. I was not going to risk trial and potentially serving a year and a half in prison when they were letting me off with no anything). They had absolutely no reason to stick that in there of course, except that when they got their hands on my phone they discovered that I was a card-carrying member of the dissident/alternative right. So naturally, I must be crazy! I was a local public defender at the time they charged me with those crimes I did not commit, which again, they knew I did not commit, and which I am repeating because I think it is crucial to understand. Needless to say, this “psych eval” tactic is starting to look like a new go-to tactic for our bolshevized law enforcement agencies, from the federal all the way down to the local.
I believe I coined the term “velvet psikhushka,” in a letter I drafted to the office of the disciplinary counsel in the state I practiced law. I told them everything that went on. I told them the legal authorities I dealt with in the process were the most evil people I’d ever met. I likened them to gangbangers. I told them I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole ordeal was a setup from the get-go. I also told them I would put absolutely nothing past those law-enforcement officers. I believe they would shoot Americans without a second thought if they imagined that was the law or if they were given orders to do precisely that. In the end, I received no punishment. My law license was not suspended, although I have since moved on from practicing law. To be frank, given some of my positions on sensitive subjects, I do not wish to be anywhere near the government or its men, America’s bluecoat KGB.
I have of course mentioned one of the primary objectives of these “psych eval” orders. The main purpose is to delegitimize and discredit the state's detractors. But one also gets the sense that another phenomenon is in play here. You see, the neo-Bolsheviks who run America and dominate all of her major institutions really think Stuart Scheller and others like him, dissidents and right-wingers and those who don’t want to get the COVID vaccine, and “racists” and “sexists” and “transphobes,” and whoever else, really are psychologically unwell. America has become a deeply polarized society and one of the consequences of that is that political differences are increasingly equated with moral shortcomings and even mental disease. So while the self-interest on the part of the Cultural Marxist elite is surely a factor, a lot of these people are true believers. Many Soviets really thought that being devoutly religious for example, was a genuine mental disorder. Many of the left-wing zealots with outsized power in America today likewise truly believe that those who reject their core beliefs are not just politically misguided, they are dangerous, abominable, and downright bonkers.
Nonetheless, the harsh and sad truth is that it takes a genuinely depraved individual to use psychiatry as a political or government weapon. Similarly, one must be truly nuts to believe the use of the velvet psikhushka or any other psikhushka, is normal or acceptable conduct for any liberal, democratic, or legitimate government.
To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.