In 1955, the great documentarian Albert Maysles traveled around the Soviet Union visiting mental hospitals. It became his first film and here it is for you, albeit not the greatest print of it.
There’s a lot that is really fascinating here. For some of you who are psychologists or know much more about these issues than myself, the emphasis on Pavlovian approaches over Freudian may be of great interest. For me though, it’s a reminder that despite the leftover Cold War propaganda still infecting our brains, everyday life behind the Iron Curtain was….not in fact terrible for most people. It wasn’t all oppression all the time. That’s not to say that there weren’t obvious problems or that these were good regimes. But daily life is mostly daily life and while most people may be problematic in one form or another, they also mostly aren’t monsters, even in an ideologically driven regime, which is a description that applies as much to the United States as it ever did to the USSR.