duplicate key [entry]

SpringerReference   unpublished
This paper analyses the historical importance of objects in psychiatry -particularly their use in the contemporary teaching and training of nurses -with reference to a collection of duplicate keys from the Waldau clinic near Berne. The collection consists of approximately 90 objects, made by patients with the aim of using them to escape. The psychiatrist Walter Morgenthaler collected these keys at the beginning of the 20 th century, attached them to plates, gave them patients' record numbers
more » ... used them for teaching. In these patient's records, stories of the keys can be found. For the first time, these records allow for an analysis of the keys in the context of material culture. The "Key Problem" In a passage about patients' attempts to escape in his 1900 Guide for Nurses for Lunatics, the Bremen psychiatrist Ludwig Scholz (1868-1918) wrote: Escapes are only prevented by sharp alertness! Neither walls nor bars can replace attention, they in fact invite nurses to act negligently. A lot of sin takes place during the locking of the doors. Key and hand of the nurses shall grow together, as it were, and the locking of the doors had to become a mechanical habit. Under no circumstances shall he leave the key anywhere; furthermore, he shall not make the common mistake of not locking the door on purpose, "because someone will come directly after him!" Moreover, he shall remember that sick people occasionally try to snatch or steal (at night!) keys. 1 This passage from his Guide steers the contemporary reader's attention in two directions: first, towards the person to be nursed and second, towards the object, in this case specifically keys, whose connections will be of concern in the following essay. Both groups, nurses and objects, were constitutive of psychiatry at that time. Whoever was in a mental institution was locked in or out of life outside by means of keys. This state of affairs had to be maintained by the institution's employees, since mental asylums were places of detention since the 19 th century. Taking care or even curing patients was not a priority, and could not be, since asylums were overcrowded. Therefore, employees were mainly hired because of their physical strength, as they were often called upon to use it in their work. There were some attempts to professionalize nursing in the second half of the 19 th century, leading psychiatrists to expect more than physical force from prospective employees. It was only at the beginning of the 20 th century, however, that the expectations were expanded, thus increasing the potential for a 1 Scholz 1900/1913, p. 104f., my translation. Italics are letterspaced in the original.
doi:10.1007/springerreference_13102 fatcat:issyrgilhzgw7asa3vmzshrxgq