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Review
, 24 (4), 537-57

The Russian Concept of Schizophrenia: A Review of the Literature

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Review

The Russian Concept of Schizophrenia: A Review of the Literature

H Lavretsky. Schizophr Bull.

Abstract

The focus of this article is a comprehensive review of the Russian-Soviet conceptualization of schizophrenia, which can be understood only in the broader historical and cultural context of Russian-Soviet psychiatry. Because of multiple barriers and the political abuse of psychiatry in the former Soviet Union, international psychiatric literature has lacked unbiased data about the scientific merit and historical logic of the Russian-Soviet concept of schizophrenia. This article represents an attempt to examine phenomenology, nosology, and some biological theories of schizophrenia developed in the former U.S.S.R. from historical and scientific points of view and to compare them to the Western theories. The article also addresses historical and cultural antecedents of the abuse of psychiatry. The author suggests that the lack of a democratic tradition in Russia, a totalitarian regime, and oppression and "extermination" of the best psychiatrists during the 1930-50 period prepared the ground for the abuse of psychiatry and Russian-Soviet concept of schizophrenia. Perspectives on the potential changes in the Russian concept of schizophrenia in changing historical conditions are discussed.

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