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Accepted Paper:

Cage beds, walls and bridges: symbolic dimension of the proposed transformation of psychiatry in the post-1989 Czech Republic  
Lydie Fialova (Edinburgh University)

Paper short abstract:

My research focus on the proposal of transformation of psychiatry and mental health care in the Czechoslovakia after 1989. I examine the role of the profession, civil society, and the state in this endeavour: intentions and motivations of the individuals and their institutional entrenchment.

Paper long abstract:

My research follows the implication of the fall of state socialism in 1989 for mental health care in the Czech Republic. Majority of long-term care has been provided in large institutions, that became perceived as a symbol of the totalitarian regime. The proposal for 'long-overdue' reform has been in the direction of more individualized and differentiated forms of care. I shall focus on the symbolic dimension of the process, where the discourse of 'liberation' became an appealing concept in the context of radical dissociation with the socialist past perceived as restrictive and repressive, trampling to human rights and autonomy, materialized in the symbolism of institutional walls and cage beds. However, the reform has never been enacted. I will examine the role of symbols in the transformation of care of the mentally ill from the historical perspective, and analyze why this strategy proved insufficient for the reform.

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed

Panel W106
Crisis and resolution: imagination and the transformation of psychiatric care