[Guest post] Review of Orangerie by Tom Weidig

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We are all caught in our own brain showing us one unique perspective of the world when in fact there are billions. Orangerie is a documentary that transports you to a place most of us have never experienced: the psychiatric ward.
Many documentaries carry a message, an ideological message on how you should interpret this other world. Orangerie does not. The two authors have managed to subdue their ideology and merge into the background. The result is a series of cuts from the ward’s traffic cams of the most
interesting bits. It is a great pleasure to be the invisible observer of life on a psychiatric ward. And it’s not just a documentary about the patients. It is also about the staff on the psychiatric ward.
If a group of friends visits a new country, rarely do they agree on what they see. Here is what I saw. I felt a bizarre and surreal atmosphere bordering towards the comical, especially during group therapy sessions. The patients came across as vegetables, please forgive me the politically incorrect term, and as leaves of plants that haven’t been watered for some time. They had no real life inside of them. They spoke of their discomfort without me feeling their discomfort. They had a great thirst for their medication. Psychopharmaca is the key for understanding their behaviour. Had you visit a ward 100 years ago, they would have had plenty of energy to do destructive things. Now, they are just vegetables, which is an improvement but not the solution. Therefore, I didn’t feel sadness but rather relieve for them to have found a safe haven that can psychosocially and neurochemically stabilize them.
Who is the patient? Ironically, some staff exhibited border-line behaviour and felt vulnerable. Had I just seen their face, gestures or dress style, I could have thought that they were patients. In a professional business environment, they would have been the ones standing out and not coping with the pressures. Many put on the brave face of the psychologically stable and confident, when intuitively I felt that they probably also have issues, less severe but nevertheless, in their lives. A show of more vulnerability might have decreased the patient’s perceived gap to the normal world. But I empathize with them on the heavy administrative loads and the centrally dictated rules that make a personalized treatment difficult.
Well, that is what I took from the journey, rightly or wrongly. Go and see Orangerie and dive into the psychiatric ward. It is good for your personal development.


Cite this blog post
Benoit Majerus (2013, October 24). [Guest post] Review of Orangerie by Tom Weidig. notebook. Retrieved April 16, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/r7j7

Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as an historian at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a social history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

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About Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as an historian at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a social history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

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