The history of psychiatry

permanent collection
01.10.07 - 30.12.20

What is the extraction of the stone of madness? How do shamans expel evil spirits? What was the effect of the ‘rotation therapy’, invented by Belgian’s first psychiatrist Joseph Guislain? What objects protect us from disease and madness? What does present-day psychiatry look like?

In the course of history people have dealt with madness through a mixture of magic and religion, coercion and care, supervision and science. The unreasonable have been punished, anointed, cared for and cured.

The history of mental health care has known a good deal of desperation, malpractices and sometimes unjustified euphoria. The mental patient confronts us with questions that are hardly answerable and problems that are anything but easy to solve. How do we deal with those who are different? How do we deal with that which is different in ourselves?

The permanent exhibition on the history of psychiatry also pays attention to madness in other cultures and to contemporary questions, problems and ideas. By presenting the terms ‘madness’ and ‘mental illness’ in their historical and cultural contexts, the Museum Dr. Guislain wants to challenge the line between ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’.

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