“Psychiatry in France is the poor relation of the world of health”

Dn a society where the image is queen, where the gaze is king, the sense of listening is an atrophied organ. So we can only rejoice when listening is punctually put on the front of the stage. This is what happened on February 26. Nicolas Philibert was consecrated by winning the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for his documentary On the Adamant. A work that films the unfilmable, namely listening to a word. By deciding to focus his attention on the psychic suffering and the speech of the sick, Philibert got it right. He makes us hear a word of great intensity.

Read the report: Article reserved for our subscribers At the Berlinale, Nicolas Philibert receives the Golden Bear for his documentary “On the Adamant”

L’Adamant is a day hospital on the Seine, in the heart of Paris. This is this place rare in contemporary psychiatry , where patients and carers live together around therapeutic workshops. Why are they therapeutic? Quite simply because they create human ties. And when the bridge is restored, the roles become more fluid and more blurred. Some freedom returns. On the Adamant, social and medical labels are dwindling… Who treats? Who is treated? We don’t really know anymore.

Is this all anecdotal? No, according to the success met by this atypical documentary. Because a miracle occurs there: listening to psychic suffering, that is to say giving space to its expression, seems to heal not only the patient, but also the society that listens to it.

We look away

The political instinct of an Emmanuel Macron did not miss the phenomenon. The President of the Republic immediately paid tribute to the French Golden Bear as well as to the “psychiatric patients and caregivers”praising their “humanity” and their ” commitment “. We would like these just words to be followed by strong actions. Need we remember that, despite the chorus of praise, psychiatry in France is the poor relation of the world of health?

Are we going to zap again? Return to the sole power of the image and close this ephemeral parenthesis granted to listening? It is most probable, because it is necessary to be lucid, the psychic suffering, except this cinematographic nugget, frightens. It sends us back to our Manichean vision of a “madman” foreign to us. A madman who threatens us, reminds us that death, the absurd, suffering, loneliness are at every street corner. A madman above all who sometimes acts out when there is no longer any psychiatric and psychotherapeutic follow-up.

Survival reflex: it must therefore be removed, prohibited, discarded. Immediately we create a barrier. Mental barrier: we look away. Physical barrier: we isolate it behind the walls of the hospital and if possible far from urban centers.

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