Banning languages in forensic psychiatric facilities: “In German clinics only German is spoken!”

The article Genital mutilation in hospital order treatment: Autism, hopelessness and suicide in German forensic facilities was translated into Russian by Ernest’s mother Natalia T. The reasons behind translating this article is because, in the past, she was expressly prohibited from talking to her son in Russian, her native language, by the staff at the Forensic Psychiatry in Stralsund. In 2013, the chief physician stated the reason for this decision was because “after telephoning with his mother, Ernest was more unstable and much harder to control.” No doubt the clinic would have been well-advised to question and explore to what extent their treatment contributed and/or still contributes to the further deterioration of his health. For autistic people, routines and linguistic familiarity with the person to whom they are most closely connected are both essential basic conditions for recovery. According to his mother’s statements, not even these conditions appear to be assured. Before Ernest was committed, Natalia T. said only Russian was spoken at home. Until 2013, she had basically never heard her son speak German. “I have a hard time understanding his German because he says some words wrong and then I don’t know what it is he’s trying to say.” Instead of initially including a Russian speaker to accompanying him in his therapeutic treatment, an unnecessary language barrier was introduced which was absolutely counterproductive to the therapeutic process.

Dr. Christian Discher

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