A striking account of a colony for the mentally ill that forces a reconsideration of madness in society. What happens when the mentally ill are not isolated from society but are instead welcomed into it and invited to take a place in the fabric of the community? Are fear and rejection replaced by the understanding and sympathy often engered by familiarity? Or are the barriers between the sane and the mad only strengthened? We have experienced a taste of this scenario in the U.S. in the last decade with the new emphasis on de-institutionalization, but Denise Jodelet takes us to an extraordinary community in France where the mentally ill have assumed a visible and prominent role for more than seventy years. The small French town of Ainay-le-Château and its environs are the site of a "family colony" for men, established in 1900. Here the patients ("lodgers") live with ordinary families ("foster parents"), hold jobs, and are free to move about the countryside. Jodelet's chronicle of daily life in the colony is made rich and vivid by extensive ethnographic material as she unravels a complex set of relationships, ultimately finding that while some of the barriers between the "other" and the larger society have been overcome, new ones have arisen in their place. This unique social experiment provides invaluable social and cultural insights, illuminating many fundamental issues in psychology, psychiatry, and sociology.
About the Author
Denise Jodelet is Professor of Social Psychology at the Ecole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris.