Unhinged: On Jitterbugs, Melancholics and Mad-Doctors

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Madness deranges, throws us off balance, and makes us lose our footing. Yet some writers claim that madness is an enlargement of normality. But how can that which we cannot control belong to 'normality'? And what is normality?

For more than 30 years, the permanent display on psychiatry has been the very heart of the Museum Dr. Guislain in Ghent. The history of psychiatry is the inspiration for new thematic exhibitions every year, in which the museum seeks to dislodge entrenched views and deep-rooted stigmas and reframe them in the context of today. In October 2019, this permanent display received a make-over and has been presented under the title 'Unhinged', in which the Museum Dr. Guislain offers a fresh look at its own history as a museum.

The richly illustrated publication explores the boundaries of the traditional and goes in search of the sane in the insane. It provides an overview of psychiatry on the basis of five contemporary themes that enter into dialogue with each other: 'power and powerlessness', 'body and mind', 'architecture', 'classification' and 'imagination'. Historical documents are also put side by side with contemporary art, creating a dynamic interpretation.

This new approach reflects today's 'crazy' society, in which, happily, increasing attention is being paid to psychological vulnerability, but in which mental health care is also facing new challenges more than ever.

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