Sunday, April 5, 2009

Janus Korczak son becomes Father to Joszef Goldszmidt

Tworki is the madhouse that Henryk's father is committed to due to his uncontrollable behavior . Up until that point, he cares for his father and becomes father to him. Already there is a set pattern to Janusz's concern as a father to all needing his comfort and help when even the circumstances of that fatherhood became extremely painful for him to function in that capacity.And he was so young and yet so old in countenance.

Tworki is the asylum described here and built in a fairly progressive environment. I was surprised at reading the description of Tworki of the treatments given their patients as "progressive" in the European sense of the term as they were, the therapies, that is. Its treeless desolation and swamps were par,I suppose, but the treatments in that backward "oriental country" were modeled on the then European treatments. Gardening and carpentry no less!

As his father´s condition worsens, the narrator has to spend more time at
home with him. He is becoming the father, while his sick father is assuming the
role of the son. In the middle of the night he is awakened by the beating of his
own heart, and feels as if he were " crying over the grave of his childhood ."
One day he lets his father win at cards because it seems to make him happy.
" Oh, my God ," he prays that night, " let him survive to an old age. And give
me the strength to help him. "
He knows that his father must have once had
dreams like his. But "now there is nothing left."
Sometime in the early
1890s, Jozef Goldszmit´s behavior became unmanageable at home. He was committed
to a "madhouse," probably the newly built brick asylum in Tworki
, twenty miles
south of Warsaw. Built at great expense by the Czar, Tworki housed four hundred
and twenty patients from all over the Russian Empire; it even had a separate
walled-off compound for criminals awaiting trial. A treeless, desolate place,
whose high red-brick walls were surrounded by unhealthy swamps
, it was the most
advanced mental hospital in the Empire -the first to be lit by electricity. A
large Russian Orthodox church together with a small Roman Catholic chapel but
dominated the grounds. The wards were filled with people suffering from
syphilis, alcoholism, schizophrenia, and manic-depressive psychosis
. Treatment,
modeled on the European system, stressed work projects such as carpentry. There
was little in the way of medicine other than herbs, chemicals, or barbiturates.
Distinguished patients like Jozef were quartered in a special walled-off
compound, given small plots to garden, and encouraged to read and spend time in
the carpentry shop. Those who became uncontrollable were put into straitjackets
and tied down in bed.

No comments:

Post a Comment