A documentary film called Diagnosia, which just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, recreated the inside details of a psychiatric ward for patients of internet addiction, a common disease in China.

According to Sixthtone, the film is based on the experience of Zhang, one of the film’s producers.

He was diagnosed as an internet addict and put into a psychiatric hospital at 17. Even though he was there for only a few months, he was still obsessed with the treatment as non-human.

Zhang’s was set to the Youth Psychological Growth Base, located on the outskirts of Beijing for treatment. Here, Zhang and many other patients had to take antidepressants twice a day. The nurses even shone lights in their mouths to ensure they weren’t hiding the medicine behind their tongues.

If Zhang disobeyed orders during military training, the instructors might beat him severely. He was also locked in a dark room for several days. But the terrifying aspect of this mental hospital is that he must follow any regulations that the staff members suddenly make.

Fortunately, he was released in late 2007 after being “evaluated” by the hospital’s doctor.

Such hospitals have exploded in China over the past 20 years. But Zhang judged that they were set up just to make money. In 2007, the hospital charged Zhang’s family $1376 (10,000 yuan) a month.

Not only that, these mental hospitals have no proof that their method is effective.

Zhang told Sixthtone that many people come in not because they’re addicted to games. When they are released, it’s not because they’re “cured.”

It is worth noting that the mental institution that was once admitted Zhang for “treatment” has published a study showing the criteria for assessing a “game addiction,” which is accepted by both the scientific world and the public.

However, according to Zhang, this research has many problems. First of all, these results run counter to conventional ethical standards.

Zhang said, “They didn’t tell us that we would be used in experiments … Many people in the clinic had been tricked into going there; parents even used sleeping pills to bring them in.”

In addition, none of the patients had severe psychiatric symptoms. The supposed criteria for admission was that a person played games for more than six hours a day for three months. However Zhang believes his parents wanted him “put away” while they were going through marital difficulties—and the center was only too happy to oblige. 

Filmmaker Zhang’s film “Diagnosia” has caused a wave of attention in the film industry, receiving a lot of nominations at film festivals. The film won the “Best Chinese Film” award at the Sandbox Immersive Festival.

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