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October 2021

Doors and thresholds: Jeddi's approach to psychiatric disorders

Author(s): Vervaek, Bart

Journal/Book: Social Science and Medicine. 1986; 22: 541-551.

Abstract: Reports on a significant institutional and therapeutic innovation at the Ibn Rochd and Pinel section of the Razi University long-term mental hospital in Tunis, Tunisia. The innovation was introduced by E. Jeddi and his colleagues and focuses on the ambiguity of doors and boundaries in the mental asylum. Doors and walls influence the rhythm of activity and the nature of contact among patients, therapists, and the wider society and culture. If they are very rigid, they may disjoin the patient from him/herself, his/her body, social network, and culture. If such boundaries are completely neglected, they may merge these related dimensions as undifferentiated entities. Jeddi's innovation is primarily concerned with placing the spatio-temporal experience of the body and the intimate interpersonal interaction at the center of treatment. The present authors provide an anthropological perspective on the dance and music therapy at the hospital. ABSTRACT 2: Professor Essedik Jeddi and his team have introduced a most significant institutional and therapeutic innovation at the Ibn Rochd and Pinel section of the Razi university long-term mental hospital in Tunis (Tunisia). The innovation focuses upon the ambiguity of doors and boundaries in the mental asylum. Doors and walls influence the rhythm of activity and the nature of contact between patients, therapists and the wider society and culture. If they are very rigid, they may disjoin the patient from him- or herself, from his/her body, social network and culture. On the other hand, if such boundaries are completely neglected they may merge these related dimensions as undifferentiated entities. Jeddi's innovation is primarily concerned with placing the spatio- temporal experience of the body and the intimate interpersonal interaction at the centre of treatment. It aims at establishing creative modes of expression, interaction and exchange such as tea- sessions, dancing, singing, verbal communication, clay-modelling, figurative or plastic expression, agricultural works. These relationships mediate and differentiate at the same time between the patient, his/her body-self, and his/her social and cultural world, thus avoiding both the disjunction and the merging. It would seem that the activities concerned with the distinction between 'inside' and 'outside', peasant and urban, self and other (e.g. dancing and singing) are of paramount importance in bringing about such mediating and differentiating relationships. In the present study we limit ourselves to one particularly revealing therapeutic activity, namely dancing to live music. Jeddi's innovation is a unique blend of current developments in psychiatry and psychotherapy with Arabo-Islamic science and philosophy.

Note: ambiguity of doors & walls in mental institutions; rhythm of activity & interpersonal & intrapsychic relationships; psychiatric patients; innovation of E. Jeddi

Keyword(s): Psychiatric hospitals; interior design; hospital environment; psychotherapeutic techniques; mental disorders; interpersonal interaction; body image. Cultural Characteristics. Dance Therapy/methods. Health Facilities. Health Facility Environment. Human. Medicine, Traditional. Mental Disorders/psychology/therapy. Music Therapy/methods. Psychiatric Department, Hospital/organization & administration. Security Measures. Social Adjustment. Social Environment. Symbolism


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