Oh my heavens, this is such an excellent, excellent post! I love it – and I agree with a lot of it, myself, though my circumstances are quite different. Living with someone who has “issues” (as many of us do), carries its own set of challenges, and it’s great to read about people (in this case 1/4 of a world away) who are simply accepting and living with things as-they-are.
I can’t recommend this post strongly enough. Nice!
There’s a small town in Belgium named Geel (pronounced hale with a throaty, Germanic H). By 1930, a quarter of its residents were mentally ill. If you know about Geel, you know this was not because something lurked in the water or food supply. It was because for 700 years families in Geel accepted mentally ill patients, or “boarders,” to live with them in their own homes. The town got a nickname: “Paradise for the Insane.”
I’ve never been to Geel, but I recently heard about it on NPR’s Invisibilia podcast. In the episode, reporter Lulu Miller interviews Ellen Baxter, a researcher who earned a grant to live in Geel for a year. Prior to this trip, Baxter had faked her way into a mental institution, wanting to find out about the therapeutic practices used. She saw virtually none. What she did see: people watching television, looking out the…
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