When people are treated like beasts – appalling conditions in a psychiatric hospital in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Until recently, Christian Discher, PhD, taught at the Institute of Romance Studies at the University of Potsdam. It is remarkable how the author of this book literally survived the hell of Ueckermünde documented by the filmmaker Ernst Klee (1942 – 2013) in his ARD documentary from 1993. In 1997, the young Christian Discher, a skilled athlete at the time, was admitted to the acute ward in Ueckermünde in the middle of an adolescent crisis. The buildings, furnishings and staff at the hospital were of course still left over from the GDR era. At the time, Discher was 17 and homosexual. A thorough anamnesis was not conducted. The psychiatrists and psychologists considered Discher to be lacking in intelligence and attested that he had religious delusions. A continuous overdose of medication changed his personality. The “patient” was hardly able to express himself – an unimaginable ordeal.

The “psychiatrization” came about when a pastor, with whom Christian Discher had sought help from in his uncertainty especially concerning his sexuality, “suspected” what was going on prior to their discussion and quickly arranged for his hospitalization. This was certainly a result of the wide-spread sensitization about mental illnesses and “disturbances” that arose around 1968 in the old Federal Republic of Germany and washed over into the new federal states after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and which eventually appealed to Protestant pastors.

Christian Discher, now 35 years old, needed a long time to write down his traumatic nightmare in a book, which includes shocking accounts of life in an institution that is anything but humane. Many pets are clearly treated better.

Because of his homosexuality, Christian Discher is contemptuously called “Ms.” when he is admitted. “God, God, God, do you have anything else in store? He can’t help you now either! You’re sick. Just answer my questions. Will you stop blabbering on about such stupid things! Sign right here, Ms. Discher!”

Christian Discher describes how he was degraded and humiliated in a terrible system of domination and whim. Therapy and healing were obviously not the goal of the institution. People were literally paralyzed and used as administrative objects with which could be earn money. Christian Discher writes about the fates of his fellow patients, some of which ended in suicide. The state stands by and watches these events without effectively intervening. And the Ueckermünde psychiatric ward will not be an isolated case. There is a lack of reliable control bodies in our country. The same applies to prisons and currently also to the countless refugee centers.

Christian Discher’s strength is admirable. He studied in Paris and Dublin and now holds a doctorate in higher education. His story remains an isolated case because most people in “psychiatric prisons” are now and will remain victims of an inhumane social system.

This is a remarkable book that makes you think.


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