François Ferrero: Inquiry of the Geneva 1980s’ Psychiatry Crisis. Forced Hospotalization, ECT and Sleep Therapy 


André Haynal’s* letter to François Ferrero


Dear François,

        I hasten to respond quickly to your letter dated July 10, [2018] for which I thank you very much (personal letter, document concerning the history of psychiatry in the 1980s). How much time and energy wasted in the hustle and bustle and intense activity which, as in other cantons and elsewhere, could have been saved. Faithful to the historical peculiarities of Geneva, political overheating and probably the influence of French psychiatry led this Republic on a path which caused a lot of suffering to the carers and the cared for and which, by ideological blindness, did not allow a solution "Politically correct" (therefore: at the time seemed acceptable) to stop this development in time and decently.

        A psychiatry unwilling and not daring to be one could not be carried by a majority of serious professionals in a shared project (since there are a lot of contradictory projects).

[Note that it was amazing that in different groups and circles, some creativity continued even during this period.]

        Ajuriaguerra's charismatic impulse, who called himself the boss (le patron) with the face of Janus, did not find an effective and worthy follow-up immediately and gradually deteriorated into a polyphony of contradictions without guidance. Political, managerial problem, without being recognized as such but attributed to the "fault" of the discredited psychiatric conception.

        The institution’s management and medical value have taken a long time to find new growth and innovative ideas to establish an adequate governance direction.

        Subsequent developments have gradually found their way back to effective care and a collaborative fraternal community interested in shared scientific backgrounds as the basis of activities.


*André Haynal passed away in 2019.


April 16, 2020