The Medvedev affair has already been reported in the U.S. press and this is a firsthand account. You might remember that in...

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A QUESTION OF MADNESS

The Medvedev affair has already been reported in the U.S. press and this is a firsthand account. You might remember that in the summer of 1970, Zhores Medvedev, an important Soviet biologist whose dabblings in ideology and scientific revisionism irritated government authorities, was forcibly carted off to a mental hospital where he underwent 19 days of illegal psychological examination, eventually being released even though diagnosed as a ""psychopathological personality"" with ""paranoid tendencies"" and declared a danger to the community. An advocate of international scientific cooperation and author of an immodest attack on the work of Stalinist geneticist Trofim Lysenko, Medvedev contends here, partly a journal of the ordeal, that his involuntary incarceration is but another example of the Soviet's use of psychiatry to discredit those who deviate from the Politburo line -- and, by way of confirmation, Medvedev's publications have since been officially branded as ""reformist delusion"" in the USSR. The episode instigated strong protests, organized and led by Medvedev's twin brother Roy, from the intelligentsia: A. D. Sakharov, the distinguished Soviet scientist, wrote to Comrade Brezhnev and Solzhenitsyn, the writer whose Cancer Ward and First Circle this recalls, issued a public statement saying in part that ""Because of the very diversity of his talents, he is charged with being abnormal."" A Question of' Madness concludes with outspoken appeals by the Medvedev brothers for more intellectual freedom in the Soviet Union and a condemnation of the state's use of psychiatric science as a political weapon. The message is as clear as that bell and liberals everywhere will automatically salivate.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1971

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1971