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Memoria e Ricerca

A history of silences. Chronic female patients in a psychiatric hospital in the province of Buenos Aires (1908-1949)

di Aida Alejandra Golcman
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 47 (2014), p. 47

This article talks about a group of chronic patients at Esteves Hospital of Lomas de Zamora, in the province of Buenos Aires between 1908 and 1949. We chose this particular group of women because, regardless of their personal characteristics and their different backgrounds, they were all diagnosed with a mental illness and lived in a neuropsychiatric hospital until they died. The time period selected is from the opening of the institution, until the advent of psychotropic drugs, that made the everyday life in the hospital to change. We are interested in different variables: chronicity, coexistence with other patients, the impact of language in this coexistence and in their diagnoses. The medical records of these patients are stories of silences that allow us only to make a collage with pieces of broken stories. Singularities and subjectivities disappeared when entering Esteves and they became a “diagnosis stamp” in a medical file, or a group of symptoms without a nosological identity. Keywords: Psychiatry, Chronic patients, Hospital Esteves, Argentina, Silences, Loneliness