Thank you very much for your review. I was also very impressed by the book. It stirred me up, made me angry, and at times left me speechless. But in the late 1990s there was such optimism in the air.
During my volunteer year in Mecklenburg I got to know people who were (actually) rescued from Ueckermünde: Ueckermünde is over. Life has returned again. With professional support, these people managed to become autonomous in an incredible way. Today they sometimes live in their own apartments. If these newly trained therapeutic and social education workers had spent even one minute (primarily) on diagnoses, if these people had not been acknowledged in their history, with their desires and their life goals kept in sight, they would have never gotten back on their feet in the new environment. But that was not the case. The minister mentioned in the book also knew and cared for this institution and did all she could to promote this human pedagogy. I remember that.
In my opinion, the overview of the hospitalization process in your review is somewhat concise. I read the corresponding sections in such a way that several people on that day agreed Mr. Discher was not doing well. One of these people was his friend Bea, who first went to church with him after an outing, and also to the place where Mr. Discher spoke with the minister. Bea later went with him to the hospital. Furthermore, the pastor mentioned as well as the church-goers present also encountered Mr. Discher (although they did not have any relevant influence on what happened later).
In the church itself, along with previous observations made by Bea, there was also a critical moment that probably confused everyone involved (the brief speech to the visitors present at the service). After the pastor (in my opinion) intervened appropriately and re-established the “social order” by simply instructing the author to sit down on one of the benches, it was Bea who then (understandably) sought to talk to the pastor. We learn nothing about what they talked about in the book, but it can be assumed that the pastor took Bea’s concern to heart and suggested that she visit the minister.
This minister, in turn, certainly heard in advance a) about the critical moment in the church (speech, etc.) and b) about the suspicion / concern of Bea and the pastor. –> This is at least the immediate context in which the author meets the pastor. [This has little to do with the 1968 movement in the sense you describe: on the contrary – it was this movement that gave impetus to the psychiatric reform throughout Europe (except in the GDR) in the 1970s (–> Psychiatrie Enquete 1975 et al.), and created the basis for the deinstitutionalization of large institutions, including those which care for the disabled and elderly. The latter, however, only came into the picture a little later and UNFORTUNATELY did not have enough staying power to finally end the partly undignified treatment of elderly people]. In addition to the context mentioned above, which reinforces the presumption, there is another aspect: at one point the minister asked Mr. Discher who Mr. Discher would like to talk to. He mentioned Mila (his inner voice). The minister and Bea then agreed to take him to Mila’s – they took him to the emergency room instead. How should they have reacted? I tried to answer the question myself and realize how difficult it is (also, of course, because I have only a limited insight based on what I’ve read in the book).
What is true in any case: nobody understood Mr. Discher at that time, and nobody was able to adequately assess him and his situation.
Personally, I would not blame the people mentioned as they clearly were not part of the medical system. They acted because they felt they had to act. They believed that they could no longer remain within their own limited possibilities (friendship, pastoral care), but needed to involve professionals with medical qualifications, whom the pastor, minister and Bea also trusted. That’s the ultimate tragedy.
Moreover, a minister cannot arrange for a “hospitalization”. This is a matter for the doctors to decide. With the doctors alone all further responsibility remained to decide whether the young man was in a psychiatric (and thus medically treatable) or a psychosocial and/or development-related temporary life crisis… This should have been identified and determined by (the many) doctors mentioned. Not by the minister, who acted on the basis of a suspicion (like family members, friends or colleagues did in other cases) which could have been completely dismissed. It was not, however, because of the incompetence and inhuman attitude of the doctors mentioned. I had to sometimes painfully revise the impression I got from my volunteer year – it was also in the summer of 1997 – that Ueckermünde was/is over. Terrible.