Today was a fun day! We started out pretty early checking out of our hotel in Cologne and made our way to the train station. After successfully maneuvering the multiple trains and buses we made it to our hotel in Ghent, Belgium. We had a little bit of time to get food before our excursion for the day. Luckily for us there was a food truck festival going on, so I had a delicious vegan burger made of mostly seaweed and some french fries with mayonnaise. After eating we made our way to Dr. Guislain’s Museum. This was absolutely fascinating as we got to learn about Dr. Guislain and the building we were in, as it was formerly his insane asylum, and be taken through an in depth history of psychiatry. We started with neanderthals and the cracking of skulls to free evil spirits all the way to drug therapy. We learned about key people that helped Dr. Guislain create and maintain the insane asylum. This was one of the few places people could go if they had little money. Dr. Guislain helped move technology forward with experiments and new techniques, but what I appreciated most was his emphasis on development and the idea that these people need to challenged, encouraged, and developed. We learned about some of the history specific to Ghent and that area as well. Now the building is used for the Museum and houses art exhibits of artists that have mental heath disorders. Leaving there I felt as though I had taken and absorbed a semesters worth of the history of psychiatry.
An unexpected happening of today was the ease at which we changed countries. We went from Germany to Belgium without having so much as our passports checked. This made me excited for when I return to Europe, having a better understanding of the trains and the logistics of moving between cities.
Today really connected with my topic of religion, as catholicism played a huge role in the treatment of mental health patients and still does. At the beginning they were some of the first to help but also hurt a lot because of their belief in the devils involvement. They used that belief amongst others to kill people with mental illnesses and to ostracize them from the rest of society. This also revealed a clear difference in those who wanted trained nurses and those who wanted nuns. Catholics helped represent those with differences by funding a lot of the work to help them and initially help by give them a place to go, but catholics beliefs also didn’t necessarily align with Dr. Guislain’s theory of development.