Ruined Lives: Segregation from Society in Argentina’s Psychiatric Asylums

Author: 
Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI); Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS)
Publication date: 
1 January 2007
Ruined Lives: Segregation from Society in Argentina’s Psychiatric Asylums, documents human rights violations perpetrated against approximately 25,000 people detained in Argentina’s psychiatric institutions. More than 80 percent of these people are detained4 for more than a year— and many are detained for life. Two-thirds of all psychiatric beds are part of the public health system. While large psychiatric asylums have been closed down in much of the world, 75 percent of people in Argentina’s public mental health system are still detained in facilities of 1,000 beds or more. This report documents egregious cases of abuse and neglect in Argentina’s psychiatric institutions, including people burning to death in isolation cells, the use of sensory deprivation in long-term isolation, and physical and sexual violence. This report also details dangerous, filthy and unhygienic conditions, including the lack of running water, non-functioning sewer systems, and fi re and safety hazards in institutions. The vast majority of people detained in Argentina’s psychiatric institutions languish in conditions of near total inactivity, and without the possibility of a future outside the institution.