As The New York Times Andrew Jacobs reports, there's one gigantic drawback to being one of China's lucky, power-wielding officials: Any misstep could land you in the shuanggui, a system of secret torture complexes complete with simulated drowning, cigarette burns, and sleep-deprivation. "The word shuanggui alone is enough to make officials shake with fear," Ding Xikui, a prominent lawyer told Jacobs, who reports that the actual word comes from a justice system used to punish soldiers during the nation's civil war. And the reason that shuanggui centers have taken the spotlight is thanks in part to a recent focus on the powerful Chinese officials running the country and in particular the Bo Xilai scandal: The former party boss (pictured above at left) hasn't been seen since March.

Jacobs points to a rash of Chinese officials "committing suicide" or those who have died because of mysterious causes which he believes to be the result of their experiences in shanggui centers. So what exactly happens at these mentally-scarring facilities? Per Jacobs:

One former propaganda bureau official from Zhejiang Province who was subjected to interrogation a decade ago said he spent nearly two months confined to a series of hotel rooms. He was whipped with a TV antenna and kept awake for 12 days until he began to hallucinate. The windows were papered over and a red light bulb was kept on 24 hours a day, heightening the disorientation.

In the end I was so exhausted, I agreed to all the accusations against me even though they were false,” said the man, 48, who asked for anonymity because he hopes one day to regain his government job.

For Jacobs' full article, head on over to The New York Times.