24.7 A document of the World Federation for Mental Health

No 24 : 5 March 1972

This resolution was passed at a meeting of the Executive Board of the World Federation for Mental Health. [29]

Hong Kong, 25 November 1971

“There are many definitions of mental health but one thing they all have in common is the recognition of each man’s freedom of opinion which is based on freedom of conscience – that is, his right to hold, and to affirm his personal moral values.

“Freedom of opinion has been attained only relatively recently in some countries of the world; in others, it still has to be asserted, and in all countries it has to be vigilantly defended because deprivation of this freedom is both an affront to human dignity and a severe form of mental cruelty. Respect for freedom of opinion has been incorporated in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“In recent years, there have been numerous public allegations concerning the current misuse of psychiatric diagnoses, psychiatric “treatment” and enforced confinement in psychiatric institutions of persons whose only “symptoms” have been the avowal of opinions disapproved by their society. These accusations have been directed in particular – though not exclusively – against the alleged incarceration of political dissenters in prison mental hospitals in the USSR.

“The World Federation for Mental Health resolutely opposes any such abuse of psychiatric procedures and calls on its Member Associations throughout the world promptly to investigate all such allegations, and to defend the individual’s freedom of opinion where it appears to be threatened. The Federation also calls on the mental health professionals and the Governments of countries where there are no voluntary Mental Health Associations to investigate all charges of the misuse of psychiatric procedures for political ends, and to demonstrate convincingly to the world that such practices are not condoned in principle nor allowed to continue where they are shown to have occurred.”

NOTES

[29] The original wording, accurately translated by the Chronicle, is given here. It was the WFMH to which Mrs. Z. M. Grigorenko appealed in February 1971, asking for its urgent intercession to save the life of her husband (CCE 18, note 1).

The appeal has now been published in full in English in the International Socialist Review, New York. June 1972. The WFMH’s address is: c/o Department of Psychiatry, University of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica.