Thursday, 18. July 2024.

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How was fascism implemented within the society through psychiatry as institutional violence? Does the social hierarchy through psychiatry deny our pain and grind our lives? What are the basics of political institutionalization, requests for the elimination of power abuse on behalf of the practice of sharing power with others? These are some of the questions to which we will try to give answers during discussion about "Institutions and freedoms", which Women space organizes within the educational program Antifascist studies, on Saturday, 30th November, in Nis Media Center, from 14.30h to 20.30h.

One of the most famous and one of the most controversial experiments in psychology, was so-called Milgram experiment. Its controversy stems from the ethical and technical reasons. The question, that the psychologist Stanley Milgram tried to find an answer in 1960s, was how ordinary people were willing to submit to authority and to perform fully informed 'inhuman' commands. The motivation for this series of experiments, Milgram found in the results of the Second World War. Why were so many people in the National Socialist regime ready to execute the commands in the service of the Nazi killing machine? Was there a "mistake" with all those people and are there times and circumstances in which each of us was able to torture and kill other people? (Werner Stangl)


When in one study, healthy people were sent to the psychiatric institution with altered biographies and records, they were instructed to behave normally and to observe the behavior of the medical staff. The assumption was that the staff will easily spot people who do not belong there. Medical staff failed to justify this assumption! (Rosenhan, 1973)

It has been forty years since the initiative of Frank Basaglia, and Democratic Psychiatry in Italy, who uprooted violence from the notion of Psychiatry, shifted the "illness" and "a danger to themselves and others" in the case of psychiatric treatment, and instead of it, they focused on human beings. Democratic psychiatry was based on organization of needs of people's existential suffering and introduced the service mental health centers within the local communities that are organized around the needs of the citizens. It was about CARE, NOT TORTURE.

ludaci1Psychiatric de-institutionalization movement starts from the deconstruction of power relations between the psychiatrists and psychiatric captives i.e. institution of violence. In the process, everyone who has the power must question it and processes of the abuse of power in the institution where they work.

In Serbia, there are five large psychiatric hospitals with over 3,000 beds that function as asylums, away from populated areas, fenced wires where women , men and children live in a totally degrading, unacceptable conditions. It is necessary to empty all the asylums, to deconstruct the aim of psychiatry as an institution of social control and to introduce community centers that will act as care givers.

Within this discussion we will present a two part Italian film "Once Upon a Time the City of Fools", which shows the history of the transformation of classical violent psychiatric institutions in the process of de-institutionalization of psychiatric power. The film is an authentic, emotional, intense way to show the experiences of Frank Basaglia, involved in the transformation of the asylum in Gorizia and Trieste from the complete control of it, to a place of choice, joy, life's suffering. We saw a series of dilemmas that enthusiastic Democratic Psychiatry encountered on this path of social change. Democratic Psychiatry was shown with over forty years of experience working in the community through a network of mental health policy and practice of psychiatry and freedom. Because freedom cures.

After the film, we had a vivid discussion with Lepa Mladjenović, feminist consultant and former activist of the movement of Alternative psychiatry. Lepa also participated in the Center for Mental Health in Trieste work.

A light lunch will be organized between film parts .

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