Benidorm and ‘being sane in insane places’


I found out earlier today that LB features in a school psychology course in Benidorm. Rosie’s mate, Molly, working with Oxford summer school students, was asked if she’d heard of ‘Laughing Boy from Oxford’. The class had been focusing on David Rosenhan’s ‘Being Sane in Insane Places‘ and drew on what happened to LB.

Rosenhan’s work was a cracking piece of research conducted over 40 years ago when he and a group of people feigned ‘hearing voices’ to gain admittance to psychiatric hospitals. Once admitted (all 12 of them were admitted to various hospitals in the US) they dropped the pretence of ‘symptoms’ and told staff they were no longer unwell. They were all eventually released (stays lasted between 7-52 days) with the label of schizophrenia ‘in remission’. As Rosenhan describes in the following brief clip, average contact with staff was 6.5 minutes a day, few people visited patients and the experience was one of dehumanisation. Psychiatric hospitals as storehouses for ‘problematic’ people .

Rosenhan could be describing STATT, the now closed unit that LB died in really. Described graphically in a subsequent CQC inspection a couple of months after LB died. Forty odd years after Rosenhan’s study.

[Fill in any words here, I’ve none.]

As a sort of aside, I started to dip into academic grief literature yesterday. After two years. Ignoring the crappy, intrusive, psychobabble nonsense that dictates how parents should feel and act after the death of a child/children, there’s interesting research around sense-making and purpose finding. When a death is sudden and unexpected, bereavement is seen as an assault on meaning making.

I’m not sure how to make sense of the Benidorm story. I find it extraordinary. I almost want to contact the teacher who introduced LB’s story into these young Spanish students lives and thank her/him. I’m shocked that professionals so far away seem to get what happened and understand the wider significance, given the craphole feet dragging, and worse, we continue to experience with the relevant public bodies here.

It also highlights the exceptional learning and teaching resourses #JusticeforLB has randomly generated. A collection of artwork, proposed legislation, film, text, photography, music and other materials, crowdsourced and freely available. This includes David Harling’s powerful and shaming animation about what happened to LB which always deserves another shout out.

I learned about Rosenhan as an undergraduate when LB was a tot. A newly diagnosed tot who bounced around on his toes like Tigger. Before he was prescribed with heavy shoes. To stop him bouncing.


4 thoughts on “Benidorm and ‘being sane in insane places’

  1. The last few lines…a newly diagnosed tot who bounced around like Tigger. Before he was prescribed with heavy shoes. To stop him bouncing.
    Beautiful and heart breaking…

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