The illusion of freedom, which would be perfect as per Cabred, suffered the same destiny as all illusions: disillusion.
In the late 1960s in the United Kingdom, Cooper coined the term “anti-psychiatry” to question the practices of conventional psychiatry. Under the same name, a movement arose challenging the existence of mental hospitals considered just a place of segregation and confinement. David Cooper, Ronald Laing, Franco Basaglia, and Thomas Szasz were part of that movement in sharp contrast to the psychiatric system. Argentina was not unaware of what happened in the old world.
Cooper’s project was essentially political and counter-cultural, in tune with the year 1972 in Argentina. It assumed revolution was around the corner. At that time, any change in mental health was considered vain if it was not matched by a social change. This ambitious political project was hindered not only by David Cooper’s personal problems (who left the country soon after that). Argentina swiftly came into a series of events that truncated any possibility of continuing with projects that today would be referred to as demanicomialization. (Vainer, 2000)
Once democracy was restored in 1983, after the last and sinister civil-military dictatorship, multiple attempts were made to resume the line of work commenced in the early 1970s in cities like Río Negro, San Luis, Buenos Aires, and Córdoba, among others.
At the start of the 21st century, the National Mental Health Act No. 26,657 (Ley N° 26.657) was passed in the year 2010, and the same happened in Córdoba with Act No. 9848 (Ley N° 9848). More than a century elapsed between the passing of National Act No. 4953 on July 28th, 1906, fostering the creation of mental hospitals and the enactment of the new Mental Health Legislation struggling to close such hospitals and tending to a mental health care system in which hospitalization is not the main tool.
After one hundred years since Cabred promoted the creation of asylums with the intention of providing the alienated with humanitarian care based on scientific foundations, these institutions have undergone a transformation, being more than once servile to segregation.
To illustrate this point, it suffices to quote three journalistic articles that highlight what is currently happening with the monovalent hospitals, the so-called manicomios. The first article deals with what happens nationally, whereas the second one focuses on highlighting some of the aspects the Mental Health Reviewing Entity (Órgano Revisor de Salud Mental, ORSM) revealed in its visit to Hospital Dr. Emilio Vidal Abal (HEVA). The last of these articles sets out the situation at HEVA.
In the first article, Lipcovich (June 2nd, 2015) states that a report made by the Legal and Social Studies Center (Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, CELS) shows that the National Government’s position is at least ambiguous, if not of resistance towards the implementation of Act No. 26,657 and towards the closure of mental hospitals by the year 2020. It also shows that the Government of the City of Buenos Aires has a manicomial mental health policy with segregational models, typical of asylums. CELS report ends up warning that if the institutional transformations necessary for the implementation of the Act do not occur, the Act will be dead letter.-
In the second article, Litvinoff (September 30th, 2015) mentions that ORSM was very critical after its visit to HEVA, as it was noticed that at siesta time [after lunch], patients are locked in their rooms, and that it is even possible that they receive medication to that end. It also points out the existence of discipline methods.
Finally, Ferraras (January 12th, 2017) mentions that, since 2012, legislator Liliana Montero has been filing reports to the Executive Authority of Córdoba and lodging criminal complaints due to the state of abandonment of the patients at Hospital Dr. Emilio Vidal Abal. The legislator shows in her report that the building infrastructure of the hospital is deplorable and that the patients live under indignity and overcrowding conditions.