In the "Day of Fools" we remember the link between Anne Ancelin Schützenberger and the psychiatric hospital of Saint-Alban, an isolated village in Lozère. In this place, many anti-Nazis and Jews found refuge. Here too Anne - who at that time had the name of Eliane Ancelin - found hospitality in the summer of 1945. Here she knows the Spanish psychiatrist François Tosquelles who works as a nurse together with the medical director Lucien Bonnafé. The Saint-Alban hospital is experimenting with an innovative therapeutic choice that involves patients in an equal relationship with hospital staff and their families. The period is terrible: war, political discrimination, poverty. And the eugenic policy of the Vichy government which refuses any financial support to asylums following a "prophylactic" plan for the "health" of society.
They have to fight for survival! The doctors decide on a new organization...
The patients are encouraged to be active inside the hospital. They also begin to work outside the gates, becoming part of the peasant community. They work in the fields and in the houses and participate in village life. The therapeutic and social results are surprising thanks to the care of the human relationship. And the patients of Saint-Alban survive the political massacre of the mentally ill (between 1939 and 1945, more than 45,000 patients died in French asylums).
Anne and Tosquelles will be friends forever. After the war, he continues his studies and obtaines authorization to work as a psychiatrist in France. Anne admires him for his constant dedication and advises him on the French publishing world: Tosquelles publishes books on psychiatry and becomes the president of the Societé de Psychoterapie Institutionelle in Paris.
From Anne's archive, reordered by our Association, some letters testify to that cooperation and esteem after more than 20 years.
(To learn more, read Anne's biography, Psychodrame d'une vie, by Colette Esmenjaud Glasman, pp.130-131 e 250, ed. Desclée de Brouwer, Paris, 2021)