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Serbsky and Czarist Dissidents

Cyrille Koupernik, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1983;40(6):697. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1983.04390010107014.
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To the Editor.—I was very interested in Professor Kazanetz' reply (Archives 1982;39:355) to Walter Reich's letter. I do not, however, agree with Professor Kazanetz when he stated that "psychiatry was not implicated in the punishment of 'dissidents' who took part in the first Russian revolutions of this century." A classic textbook of psychiatry published in Moscow in 1912 states that: "Revolutions may be a useful outlet for degenerates; many leaders of the Paris Commune in 1870 were certainly mentally ill."1 The author also mentioned the reality of a "political madness." On the following page he claimed that "Midshipman Schmidt [one of the leaders of the 1905 revolution was a manic-depressive even before, as well as his sister."

The author of the textbook was Professor Serbsky; his name has been given to the well-known Institute of Forensic Psychiatry (Moscow), which deals with dissenters.


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