Rivista per le Medical Humanities

rMH 44, 2019, 11-15

Administrative detentions: rehabilitation of people involved is only just beginning. Main results of the Independent Expert Commission on Administrative Detention

For about four years, researchers from the Independent Expert Commission (IEC) on Admimistrative Detention has been studying and examining the administrative detentions in Switzerland, based on the mandate obtained from the Federal Council and by virtue of the Federal Law concerning the rehabilitation of interned persons on the basis of a administrative decision of 2014. It is assumed that in the 20th century at least 60 000 people were locked up in institutions, despite having committed no crime, but just for having assumed behaviours that are considered deviant with respect to the prevailing social norm – such as, for example, men with problems related to alcohol consumption or without a permanent job or residence or women with pre-marital or extramarital affairs. As a result, people living on the margins of society were particularly affected. However, instead of promoting their integration, administrative detentions have further strengthened their social exclusion. The historical assessment of past events shows that an inaccurate legislation has promoted the arbitrary application of the administratively ordered detention measures and how people’s fundamental rights have thereby been violated. The financial and health consequences of these measures have persecuted the people involved throughout their lives, manifesting themselves in the following generations as well.

Vanessa Bignasca
rMH 44, 2019, 16-23

Laws and places of administrative detention in Ticino (1900-1981)

The paper summarises the main results of research on administrative detention in the Canton Ticino conducted by the Inde - pendent Expert Commission in compliance with a mandate of the Federal Council. The first part highlights the ideological and legislative foundations of this liberty deprivation measure, implemented in Switzerland by the administrative authorities without the possibility to appeal to a judicial authority until 1981. Moral and religious values, together with the founding values of bourgeois society – order and work above all – and with the traditional division of roles between the sexes, define the “deviance” embodied by women with pre- or extra-marital relationships or by men, say without a permanent home or job or with problems related to alcohol consumption. Throughout the 20th century, this social norm was established in the cantonal legislative texts, such as the Ticino law of 1929 on the detention of alcoholics and vagrants. In the second part of the paper, attention is focused on the institutes where Ticinesi men and women are detained – according to the authorities of the time – for the purpose of their moral “re-education” to work: prisons, psychiatric hospitals and work houses, such as the Penitentiary Insti - tutes of Bellechasse, the neuropsychiatric hospital of Mendrisio and the adjoining “House for the intemperate” called La Valletta. Obligation to work and abstinence from alcohol characterise the detention regime of these institutions, which exploited the agricultural and artisan work of the detained persons to limit management costs. The amendment of the 1978 Swiss Civil Code on the deprivation of liberty for welfare purposes resulted in the repeal of these laws and in the mandatory introduction of the possibility to appeal to a judicial authority.

Marco Nardone
rMH 44, 2019, 24-47

"Write to me often...": testimonies of isolation and resistance

  What traces have the people subjected to administrative detention left in the archives? What do they tell about their experience? What information do they provide regarding the history of administrative detention? The first part of the paper explains the different ways in which the Independent Expert Commission on Administrative Detention studied the biographies and life paths of people subjected to administrative detentions and other coercive measures for welfare purposes. The second part of the paper presents a study of written testimonies – kept in the archives – by women from Tessin detained in the penitentiary of Bellechasse, Canton of Fribourg, between 1925 and 1971. Al - though special focus is put on their particular and personal experiences, emphasis is also put on the collective implications arising therefrom. The study shows the strategies of resistance and adaptation to administrative detention developed and put into practice by women from Tessin. In the broader context of coercive measures for welfare purposes applied in Switzerland until 1981, the article intends to offer a contribution to the study of the social history of the Canton Ticino of the 20th century. The aim is thus to continue the process of historical reconstruction of the administrative detention in full development in   Switzerland starting from the beginning of this decade.

Vanessa Bignasca
rMH 44, 2019, 48-59

The right for the most vulnerable persons. Interview with Marco Borghi

The interview with the professor of constitutional law Marco Borghi focuses on the liberty deprivation measure for welfare purposes consisting of administrative detention implemented until 1981 as well as on the current right of vulnerable persons (i.e. elderly, disabled, psychiatric patients) admitted for long periods (or even for life) in an institution. Starting from a legal interpretation of administrative detention – which is considered harmful to fundamental rights because it violated the principle of habeas corpus, i.e. the right to appeal to a judicial authority against a deprivation of liberty by administrative means – the interview develops around three main moments and themes. The first considers the federal legislative evolution in the matter of deprivation of liberty for welfare purposes, with the revision of the Swiss Civil Code of 1978 (in force since 1981), which became necessary following the ratification of the European Convention on Human Rights that provided for the minimum right to appeal to a judge in the event of deprivation of liberty – which until then. The second concerns the amendment of the had been absent in Switzerland consequent cantonal law and, in particular, the genesis and contents of the 1983 Ticino law on sociopsychiatric care, the first framework law on psychiatric hospitalization and its (extra-) hospital facilities in Ticino to guarantee the constitutional rights of psychiatric patients. Finally, the interview focuses on the present moment: Borghi discusses the necessary legislative improvements for vulnerable persons admitted to long-term care or for life in institutions – such as elderly and disabled people, who are not protected by adequate legislation. It concludes by drawing attention to the concept of “diversity”, which for years in Switzer - land was the basis of a different legal treatment of a part of its citizens.

rMH 44, 2019, 60-65

Discipline and punish. Remembering Foucault

Foucault’s well-known essay Surveiller et punir (Discipline and punish, 1975), which the paper goes over, studies the birth of the prison, whose onset leaves behind the age of tortures and of the resulting horror as described at the beginning of the book. However, the invention of prison as an institution occurred in the Modern Age, starting from the second half of the 18th century, and the epochal turning point it entails are the expression of the rising and rapid establishment of a new system of transversal disciplinary power that involves the whole society, in its most diverse sectors, and “pigeon-holes” human life in articulated norms generated and justified by new knowledge and practices that extend over all a widespread network of controls, and therefore of power over lives, with new forms of hardness justified by education in the form of dressage, by collective utility and by efficiency. The reforms put in place in the age of the Enlightenment, motivated by the need for humanity, actually widen the field of punishability and aim at punishing in a better and broader way. The prison institution removes the convict from public view and closes him in a space where the whole day is regulated with a view to achieving economic selfsufficiency and moral education. The same applies to juvenile detention centres. Nevertheless, this system generates outbursts of resistance, to which Foucault was very sensitive. Discipline and punish is a work that, still today, explains a great deal and sheds light with its penetrating and highly documented gaze on disturbing aspects of society, which for example go as far as the serious administrative detentions that occurred in Swit - zerland.

Simone Pedrazzini
rMH 44, 2019, 87-93

Suicidal conduct in adolescence and educational relationships

The paper summarizes a dissertation work carried out at the Department of Business Economics, Health and Social Care (DEASS) of the SUPSI (University of Applied Sciences and Arts of South - ern Switzerland), to obtain a degree in social education, which deals with the issue of adolescent suicide. The idea of dealing with this topic was born from a personal experience lived during an internship. However, the work was aimed at broadening the reflection starting from experiences lived by other educators. More precisely, the author tried to answer the question: “How does the educators’ fear, when faced with adolescents who put into action suicidal behaviours, affect the built relationship?”. Attention to this issue is motivated by the fact that educators are often confronted with young people who manifest suicidal behaviours. Precisely with the aim of answering this question, a qualitative research was conducted based on semi-structured interviews with the director of the Amilcare Foundation and three educators of the Adoc Lugano Service. In the dissertation work, the research question was split down into its various components: suicide at Amilcare, youth issues at the Adoc Service, social workers’ fear when dealing with suicidal acts by adolescents, the relationship sought by social workers at Adoc. The analysis of the collected data shown how, in actual fact, for Adoc operators the fear, as hypothesised in the question, is not proved: quite on the contrary, the behaviours in question are experienced as an opportunity to deepen the relationship.

Chiara Saldarini
rMH 44, 2019, 94-99

Loneliness: a desert or a garden?

The paper provides the results of a Bachelor’s degree dissertation in nursing care at the Department of Business Economics, Health and Social Care (DEASS) of the SUPSI (University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland), which aimed at understanding and analysing the experience related to the loneliness of the institutionalised elderly person in a context of long stay, as well as the underlying nursing role, through the investigation of the methods of management and coping of the elderly with respect to the phenomenon and through the observation of the appropriate strategies and interventions that the caring staff already puts – or might put – in place in order to promote a condition of positive loneliness and to put the brakes on a situation of social isolation. The issue was addressed with a qualitative approach of phenomenological nature, through semi- structured interviews with five care professionals working in a nursing home for the elderly in the Canton Ticino and five residents. The research shown that there is a certain harmony between caregivers and care receivers in relation to the way they perceive and experience loneliness. Careful attention is paid by the carers in respect of the guests’ choice to be alone, thus supporting their self-determination. At the same time, the elderly recognise this possibility and confirm the importance of constantly relying on professionals who “are able to be there”.

Marika Sannino
rMH 44, 2019, 100-104

Educational relationship in the low threshold

  The article presents a synthetic reworking of the dissertation prepared for the Bachelor’s degree in social work at the De - partment of Business Economics, Health and Social Care (deass) of the supsi (University of Applied Sciences and Arts of South - ern Switzerland), in which the author carried out a thoroughly investigation of a topic relevant for the educational work: the reception in the educational relationship. The research was carried out during the experience of professional internship at the Antenna Icaro Service, thanks to the collaboration of its users and multidisciplinary team. The first part of the work involved the formulation of a reference theoretical framework enabling to contextualise the performance called “reception”, with an insight into two key concepts, namely that of “low threshold” and that of “harm reduction”, respectively. The latter were subsequently adjusted to fit the practice of reception and the educational aims to which it is oriented. In the second part, the work focused mainly on the analysis of the data collected from the interviews conducted at the Antenna Icaro Service, emphasising the relationship existing, on the one hand, between the practice of reception and the organization of the space intended for this performance and, on the other hand, between the relational methods used by professionals at the time dedicated to reception. The paper thus made it possible to create a bridge between the theoretical concepts regarding reception and the daily   educational practice.

rMH 44, 2019, 105-109

Self expression space for and relationship space

The topic of Space, covered by the dissertation work developed for the Bachelor’s degree in social work at the Department of Business Economics, Health and Social Care (deass) of the supsi (University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzer - land), of which the article provides a short summary, was addressed by the author through the educational view. The aim of the investigation was to clarify the ways in which a person expresses himself, his identity, through participation in communal spaces: in the specific situation under consideration, the activities of the Sociotherapy Service located at the Cantonal Sociopsychiatric Organization of Mendrisio were examined. More precisely, what we mean by “expressing oneself” is “expressing the space of the self”, that is the intimate place of return perceived following the relationship with people or objects. This space offers the opportunity to manifest itself through the meetings and exchanges that social life can offer. Thanks to the approach referred to as “Social Habitat”, which has its roots in the thought of Franco Basaglia at the beginning of the ’70s of last century, it was possible to develop the methodology used for the survey: in this perspective, space and environments are acknowledged a therapeutic and communicative capacity with respect to those who frequent them. The testimonies of the protagonists of the translation between “Space of the self” and “Relationship space” were collected through the tool of the focus group. In conclusion, the dissertation work made it possible to reconsider the value of relational spaces in contexts of care, to the extent that the existential aspect involved during community activities proves to bear a great potential for the person’s well-being.