Four people who claim to have been wrongly institutionalized have issued an emotional plea to hospitals and courts across China, demanding fairer diagnoses of mental disorders and greater safeguards against unlawful institutionalization.
“We are victims of incorrect diagnoses and ulterior intentions, but we do not want to complain. Complaints amount to nothing compared with our nightmares of being shackled and closely monitored in asylums,” said “Wang Dan”, an engineer who was institutionalized by her parents at a Beijing psychiatric hospital for three days in June.
Unhappy with the man she was dating, her parents broke into her apartment and forcibly took her to hospital with four men. The men are known for using violence to take uncooperative “patients” to the hospital.
Wang spent 72 hours shackled in a ward. After she was allowed to go home, she filed a lawsuit against her parents and the four men on charges of intrusion and illegal detention.
Another woman was institutionalized against her will for three months in Hebei, after her parents claimed she was mentally unstable, “I was not allowed to walk around freely. For most time of the day I was confined to bed.”
“They should also doublecheck the identities and intentions of the alleged patients’ custodians to see if the person truly has a mental illness or is simply receiving the brunt of their custodians’ anger,” she wrote in a letter that she had sent to more than 100 hospitals and courts as of Wednesday, Oct. 10, World Mental Health Day.
Inadequate diagnoses and a heavy reliance on families and custodians sometimes result in wrongful institutionalization. In some places, institutionalization is used as a political tool, with protestors ending up in asylums for voicing their grievances.
That such weight is placed upon the evidence of untrained and potentially biased family members is almost absurdly evil in a legal system such as China’s that lacks the remedy of habeas corpus, which would allow those institutionalized against their will to appear in court to fight their case.