Paolo F. Peloso, Rossana Borsi, Giuseppina Romeo

In 1967 Franco Basaglia held the conference “Corpo e istituzione” (Body and Institution) on the aspects inherent to the corporeality of the interactions in the psychiatric hospital between doctors and nurses on the one hand, and inmates on the other hand. Our aim is to discuss the evolving aspects of the corporeal relation between patients and healthcare professionals in the
contemporary mental health institutions during the ongoing pandemic. Our experience concerns a complex mental health structure, consisting of a community service, a hospital service, two Daytime centers organized in a “therapeutic community”. The new situation determined by the pandemic has strongly influenced the relations between staff and patients with negatives and positives effects, that can be both stressed. It has forced both operators and patients to confront with the risk and the fears of infection, and has imposed to the institution to adapt to a series of rules that have to do with the body: masking of the face, social distancing, carrying out control swabs according to pre-established intervals, and administering vaccine. The need to apply quarantine rules carried negative effects on the functioning of the institution, such as the quantitative decrease in the services offered to users, complications of transitions between different care levels, replacement of activities in presence with activities carried out “remotely”, a higher emphasis of “power” issues related to interactions between staff and patients and a probably more frequent resort to harder body control practices. The positive effects that we have recorded in some cases consisted in a greater flexibility by the careers in performing their tasks and the development by both staff and patients of a feeling of the pandemic as a difficulty that the group must face together. A being-together-in-the-pandemic, recognizing the body that everyone “is” in the body that everyone “has”, is a new matter to be discovered together day by day.

Corpo, istituzione, pandemia
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