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Psychiatry, Authoritarianism, and Revolution: The Politics of Mental Illness during Military Dictatorships in Argentina, 1966–1983


From 1966 to 1983, Argentina underwent a period of political radicalization as fascist regimes used terror to control its citizens and leftist guerrillas resorted to violence to spark revolution. During this politically volatile period, psychiatry transformed from an apolitical clinical specialty into an ideological tool used for both leftist resistance and military oppression. The largest psychiatric organization at the time, the Federación Argentina de Psiquiatras (FAP), became the center for a new politically committed brand of psychiatry in Argentina that united psychoanalysis and community psychiatry with Marxist theory. Though the military targeted and eventually dismantled the FAP and its leftist brand of psychoanalysis and community psychiatry, sectors of the government also paradoxically appropriated and reframed community-based psychiatric perspectives to pathologize leftist subversion and advance their own conservative ideology.