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Retrospective on Soviet Psychiatry Oral History Project, 1989 - 2022, bulk: 2021 - 2022


Scope and Contents

In 2021, members of the 1989 American delegation, some Soviet patients, Soviet doctors and other professionals, were invited to participate in the “Retrospective Review of the 1989 U.S. State Department Psychiatric Mission to the USSR” oral history project. Nineteen interviews were recorded, sixteen of them with the surviving members of the U.S. delegation, one with Andrei Kovalev, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the U.S.S.R. at the time, and two with former “Soviet patients.” There is also an original 1989 recording of one interview.

These interviews provide a comprehensive overview of the history of Soviet psychiatric abuse, the reasons why psychiatric diagnosis was used to suppress dissent, the methods, medical and legal procedures, and who were the major players in Soviet psychiatric abuse. Emphasis is also made on assessing the U.S.-Soviet relationship in the 1980s and the special place that the 1989 State Department psychiatric mission to the U.S.S.R. held in the détente. All stages of negotiations and preparations for the mission were discussed as well as the methodology of psychiatric evaluations and the findings of the American experts. An additional emphasis was also made on assessing the state of Soviet psychiatric care as of the late 1980s and all the significant changes it was going through at the time. The role of World Psychiatric Association (WPA), the All-Union Society of Psychiatrists and Narcologists, the American Psychiatric Association and other important organizations, is also given proper attention. The interviewees also discuss the long-term impact that the 1989 U.S. mission made on Soviet and post-Soviet psychiatry.


  • Creation: 1989 - 2022
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 2021 - 2022


Conditions Governing Access

The interviews with the former Soviet patients and the original 1989 recording are restricted and special permissions apply.


138.5775 Gigabytes

.25 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



Repository Details

Part of the Arthur J. Morris Law Library Special Collections Repository

Arthur J. Morris Law Library
580 Massie Road
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22903 United States