Narrenturm

Narrenturm

Close to the “Hof” or courtyard where Freud worked is the old “Narrenturm” or “fools’ tower” – the asylum. Today it houses a collection of pathology artifacts, and is only open a few hours a week. But the exterior says it all. It’s important when thinking about how bizarre some of the psychiatric treatments of the time seem to our modern sensibilities (including primitive electrotherapies and cold baths) that the conditions in which those designated as mentally ill (and this could simply mean anyone perceived as socially deviant)were kept in cells if not chains. Freud and Breuer’s “talk therapy” – even if we now disagree with many of the specifics of his theory – seems extremely enlightened by comparison! (And the Burgholzli in Zurich was indeed a much more enlightened hospital for the mentally ill, where Binswanger and Jung carried out their treatments in a more humane and almost egalitarian atmosphere.)

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About pcooperwhite

Christiane Brooks Johnson Professor of Psychology and Religion, Union Theological Seminary, New York NY
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