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Humane Psychiatric Care in De Meander: A Matter of Ethics

This article describes a number of concrete initiatives taken in the De Meander in Melle (near Ghent, Belgium), a psychiatric ward for patients with a mental disability or an acquired brain injury, with the aim of introducing and safeguarding a psychoanalytic ethic. In the latter, the particularity of the patient plays a central role. De Meander tried to achieve this by abolishing many of the ward rules, allowing more space for the singular solution of the patient. Furthermore, the author describes how aggression is addressed differently, in order to learn how to read this rather than punish it. From an ethical perspective, the values and standards of mainstream society are no longer strictly adhered to, but the starting point is the suffering and the questioning of the patient as a unique subject. The author describes how patients of De Meander are given more responsibility for their lives and future. Hierarchical positions are lifted by creating the possibility of circulation between different team members and by using the therapeutic potential of patients. Finally, the author describes how, via volunteer work, an opening to the outside world is created for so-called chronic patients. These various concrete initiatives are illustrated using clinical vignettes.

The implied experience

This text aims to explore the political implications of the creative act of painting. The author refuses to describe creation within that field of creative art which is defined purely by its own history. His goal is to broaden this field by questioning it and also to determine what connection exists between the act of painting and its socio-historical context. The recognition of such a connection leads the author to reconsider the conditions of that creative practice. In fact, if an art work obeys any other conditions than its own, it would be important to explore their role in the creative process and also to evaluate these various practices regarding their real inscription in a history which is not reducible to art history. Only then will it be possible to speculate about the possibility of aesthetic politics. More simply, this text reformulates the problem of the power of visual creation by insisting on the relationship of reciprocity it maintains with a socio-historical context which is a condition of that creation but which is also simultaneously altered through its influence.