On Sunday I go to Tromsø to meet people at the newly opened pharmaceutical free department of psychiatry. I look forward to visit Tromsø again and I am happy that many years of dedicated preparation and planning among others by Magnus Hald, who is responsible for psychiatry in northern Norway, made this department possible. Magnus was a close friend and colleague of Tom Andersen’s who prematurely passed away almost ten years ago. Crystal clear is the memory of sorrow when the news of Tom’s death reached me, but also the confidence in being surrounded by many people who in different ways have carried on in his spirit.
Tom’s work was about creating space for meetings between people, both in the small and intimate context and on different continents. He had a strong belief in the ability of people and the importance of listening to both what is expressed verbally and what you feel in your body.
Through Tom and his work I became, in my work, a part of a large network that in its practice and vision reminds us of the importance of the perseverance, patience, dedication and personal responsibility that we always carry with us.
Especially in times like these – so marked by anxiety, inconsistencies and implausible statements – it is essential not to give in to despair and catastrophic fantasies. Even if it sometimes seems difficult, there is no alternative but to think that things will go well in the end, and that it matters what we each do and contribute with.
Suzanne Osten usually reminds me of this. She says that we always have a responsibility to let a small spark of hope exist, even when it’s at its darkest. I was thinking about this the other day when I was listening to a movie clip with the French psychoanalyst Francoise Davoine; she began her career more than thirty-five years ago by visiting the dayroom at a state psychiatric hospital in France only to be present if any of the patients would like to talk to her. She calls her patients researchers, because together with her, they research their lives and the surrounding world.
My thoughts are also with Barbro Sandin, who in the mid-1970s began her pioneering therapeutic work at Säters hospital. She showed that it is possible to understand psychotic conditions and that what is called schizophrenia is neither chronic nor impossible to comprehend. But the encounter with another human being is extremely important.
In a moment, one of “my people” will turn up, so I will end this text in a feeling of joy and gratitude of being part of a group made up of many people, both my dear colleagues that I meet every day and those I meet less frequently but who in their thought and deeds help me to be where I am.