Psychiatry in Norway
FAMPO: People campaign against abuse of power, police abuse and culture
16 December 2011 | Norway v. Breivik
Norway is the European country with the highest amount of people being coercively hospitalised, relative to the population numbers.
An analysis made by SINTEF (research organisation) in the year 1996, it showed up that at about 45 per cent of all hospitalisations in Norwegian psychiatric clinics, are coercive. In other European countries the same numbers are between 5 to 15 percent.
The Norwegian numbers were, however, only an estimate. This is due to the fact that many hospitals do not even report coercive hospitalisations at all. Therefore, no good statistics are available.
In several other countries there are courts deciding whether or not a person shall be coercively hospitalised. This is not the situation in Norway. In Norway one may only complain to a so called “Control Commission” - after being hospitalised! In that situation it is often difficult for the patients to further their cases, because they are being drugged.
We have many examples of an utmost grave form of abuse of psychiatry – hospitalising
people who have disclosed corruption and abuse of power. The most well known example is the infamous so called Juklerød-affair.
Arnold Juklerød was hospitalised at Gaustad Psychiatric Hospital in 1971, with the diagnosis “paranoid schizophrenia.” According to the psychiatrists of Gaustad, Juklerød was diagnosed having “unchangeable paranoid false ideas”. This because he was able to prove, that the local authorities had broken the law, when shutting down a school.
As Trond Skaftnesmo later on documented, and also admitted by the Department itself in 1995, Juklerød’s “false ideas” were proven to be true! In spite of this, his so called “diagnosis” was never deleted.
Another one who was labelled mentally ill and coercively hospitalised was Synnøve Fjellbakk Taftø, a diplomat and a jurist. Taftø has written a book called Skjoldmøysagaen, where she writes about her experience from the Norwegian Diplomacy Service.
In the year 2000, the police in Sunnmøre wanted Kåre Torvholm and Oddmar Remøy mentally examined. In the case of Remøy, the argument for hospitalising him, tells a lot. This is what Bjørn Martin Aasen, municipal doctor in Herøy, and former secretary in one of the departments of Gro Harlem Brundtland’s government, was writing to justify coercive hospitalisation:“He belongs to a civil network with both local, national, and international connections, which purpose is to disclose criminal things, happening in the public sector, and to get things on to a more productive track. In my opinion the requirements in lph 3 are fulfilled” (Lph 3’ is a shortage for the Law on Mental Care).
In a report written in 1999, when a new law concerning psychiatry was carried, Dag Hiåsen wrote about the control commissions. In the year of 1997, as many as 9,651 Norwegians citizens were coercively hospitalised. The number of complaints on coercive psychiatric treatments, endorsed by the control commissions during the same year, was 49. That number was exceeded by the number of the control commissions at that time - which was 57!
During the last years the use of medication against ADHD has soared and has increased by 900% in the period 96-06. The UN’s drug organ has voiced concern about the strong increase in Norway, which is exceptional in Europe. There exist noteworthy warnings about side effects of this medication, as well as interesting alternatives to medication.
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Political Abuse of Psychiatry
Political abuse of psychiatry is the purported misuse of psychiatric diagnosis, detention and treatment for the purposes of obstructing the fundamental human rights of certain groups and individuals in a society.
In other words, abuse of psychiatry including one for political purposes is deliberate action of getting citizens certified, who, because of their mental condition, need neither psychiatric restraint nor psychiatric treatment.
Psychiatrists have been involved in human rights abuses in states across the world when the definitions of mental disease were expanded to include political disobedience.
As scholars have long argued, governmental and medical institutions code menaces to authority as mental diseases during political disturbances.
Nowadays, in many countries, political prisoners are sometimes confined and abused in mental institutions.
Psychiatric confinement of sane people is uniformly considered a particularly pernicious form of repression.
Psychiatry possesses a built-in capacity for abuse that is greater than in other areas of medicine.
The diagnosis of mental disease allows the state to hold persons against their will and insist upon therapy in their interest and in the broader interests of society.
In addition, receiving a psychiatric diagnosis can in itself be regarded as oppressive.
In a monolithic state, psychiatry can be used to bypass standard legal procedures for establishing guilt or innocence and allow political incarceration without the ordinary odium attaching to such political trials.
The use of hospitals instead of jails prevents the defendants from receiving legal aid before the courts, makes indefinite incarceration possible, discredits the prisoners and their ideas.
In that manner, whenever open trials are undesirable, they are avoided.
In the period from the 1960s up to 1986, abuse of psychiatry for political purposes was reported to be systematic in the Soviet Union, and occasional in other Eastern European countries such as Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia.
Political abuse of psychiatry also takes place in the People's Republic of China. Psychiatric diagnoses such as the diagnosis of ‘sluggish schizophrenia’ in political dissidents in the USSR were used for political purposes.
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Attitudes to coercion among health-care workers and the general public in Norway
Rolf Wynn | Lars-Henrik Myklebust | Trond Bratlid
Rolf Wynn: Norwegian Centre for Telemedicine, University Hospital of Northern Norway
Lars-Henrik Myklebust: Psychiatric Centre for Tromsø and Karlsøy, University Hospital of Northern Norway
Trond Bratlid: Department of Specialised Psychiatric Services, University Hospital of Northern Norway, Norway
Little is known about how different groups of health-care workers compare to each other and to the general public in their opinions about involuntary admission and treatment. In the present study, 1,094 people in Norway responded to a questionnaire containing three cases with patients suffering from schizophrenia. They were asked in which cases they would admit involuntarily and treat involuntarily with neuroleptics. An overwhelming majority would coerce when the patients were violent. Between a third and a half would coerce when the patients had problems coping with activities of daily life, or when the patients were in an early schizophrenic development with few symptoms. In all the cases, significantly more would accept involuntary admission than involuntary treatment with neuroleptics. The results suggest that health-care workers' attitudes to coercion in psychiatric care are in line with the attitudes of the general public. Prior experience with coercion, female sex, not having a college/university education, having a profession other than social worker, and not currently being employed in the psychiatric services, were positive predictors of willingness to coerce.
(Published Online January 19 2007)
Key Words: Psychiatry; schizophrenia; inpatients; attitudes; coercion.
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