Mental Health Care, China Style


The plight of a mentally ill man kept chained in a barn for 23 years by his elderly mother has lately been upsetting Chinese and non-Chinese alike.

The 40-year-old man has been kept chained up in a Chongqing barn for the past 23 years by his 74-year-old mother, who says he is mentally ill.


Perpetually confined to his barn with a 2m chain, his legs have withered and he can no longer walk.

He is not provided clothes as his mother claims he merely destroys them, and she maintains she cannot even afford bedding for him, so he sleeps on the bare floor.

According to his family, he was a healthy child and model pupil until advancing to middle school, where he lost interest in school and was eventually expelled. After that, he began to attack people around him, even attempting to set fire to their home, it is said.

Fear of further acts of arson and violence caused his family to chain him up like a ravening beast.

After 19 years of madness, in 2007 his family did have him seen by mental health professionals, resulting in them being granted an annual pittance with which to maintain him.

His mother, apparently concerned at what will become of her inmate when she passes away, tearfully explains his plight:

“I hope somebody can help me – I fear for the future for my poor boy when I am no longer here.

I have three children but although his brother and sister are normal he was never normal, and when he was 17 he became violent and smashed things.

We locked him in the barn and had to chain him to keep him there – and because he always ripped up his clothes we have to leave him naked.

Some kind neighbours donate food. Otherwise we wouldn’t manage.”


Similar incidents seems disturbingly common in China…

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