The author describes the impact of the recent social and political
changes in Eastern Europe on psychiatrists and psychiatry. The observations
contained in this paper are drawn from his personal experiences as a
practicing psychiatrist in East Germany who also served as a member of the
Executive Committee of the World Psychiatric Association from 1984 to 1989.
The practice of psychiatry in Eastern Europe before the recent social and
political changes was highly variable depending on the country, the locale
of practice, and the social and political positions of the involved
psychiatrists. Adapting to the recent changes will be very difficult, and
it will be a long time before the modernization of psychiatric practice in
Eastern Europe takes place. Psychiatrists in the Western world can play an
important part in the future development of psychiatry in Eastern Europe.
Their understanding of the current situation and the historical forces that
shaped it is extremely important to the psychiatrists of Eastern