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Interview with Leon Stern, M.D., 2021-09-06


Scope and Contents

Dr. Stern describes his career and his pathway from the Soviet Union to the U.S. He shares his insights about some aspects of Soviet history, the issue of psychiatric abuse, its roots and reasons the Soviet government resorted to psychiatry to oppress dissent. Dr. Stern talks about the major differences between special psychiatrist hospitals vs. ordinary psychiatrist hospitals and gives some excellent illustrations of “symptoms” that the Soviet school of psychiatry considered signs of mental disorder. Dr. Stern shares his opinion as to the reasons why Soviet psychiatrists engaged in unethical practices. Dr. Stern describes the field trip in great detail, including some anecdotes and specific instances. He concludes by identifying the most important changes needed in Soviet psychiatry at the time and assesses the overall success of the American mission to the Soviet Union.

Olena Protsenko, a Post-doctoral Research Associate in Psychiatry and Law at the University of Virginia School of Law, conducted this interview remotely over the Zoom application.


  • Creation: 2021-09-06


Conditions Governing Access

In addition to the restrictions on access that applies to all the oral histories from the Soviet Psychiatry Oral History Project (2021-2022), Dr. Leon Stern requested that The University of Virginia only make his interview available to researchers on-site at the repository preserving the interview.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Leon Stern is a Russian-speaking psychiatrist who was a member of the field team that inspected four psychiatric hospitals across the Soviet Union. Dr. Stern is a psychiatrist in private practice.


From the Series: 138.5775 Gigabytes

From the Series: .25 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials

From the Series: English

From the Series: Russian

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