Francesc Tosquelles Llauradó (1912-1994). From republican exile to institutional psychotherapy


Francesc Tosquelles is one of the leading representatives of French institutional psychotherapy, a psychiatric current whose conceptual seeds were probably sown in pre-civil war Catalonia around the figure of Emilio Mira i López, and whose technical applications were developed in France, the land of exile for our author, at the emblematic Saint-Alban Hospital. A complex personality for an epic biography, that of this catalan author was a life dedicated to psychiatry, a profession that he tried to exercise in the most original way that could be remembered in Europe in the second half of the last century. He deserves essential recognition in the context of Catalan and Spanish psychiatry because of his subsequent historical projection.

Key words
Francesc Tosquelles, institutional psychotherapy, war and exile, therapeutic work, intellectual resistance

[Automatic translation from Spanish]:

By 1934, he became aware of the difficulty of applying classical divan psychoanalysis to the institutional environment, in particular with children, psychotics or psychopaths. The psychiatric hospital as an institution begins to be for him a Gestalt by itself, that is, a set of elements and articulated spaces with their own life, being impossible to separate the individuals who live here and influence each other. This is what Tosquelles understood when a patient of his refuses to speak lying in the divan and, after monitoring the case, concludes that his proximity to a blind and silent patient could explain such an attitude. He would write to the psychiatrist and colleague at the Institut Pere Mata in Reus, Josep Solanes – both followers of the teacher Emili Mira i López, who promoted them to approach surrealism and the anti-fascist left-, saying:

Mental illness is (…) a giant problem, but not shocking. It will still be less shocking if the protection of official bodies and popular attention is applied (Solanes, 1935).

He stayed at the Institut Pere Mata until 1937 and worked as both a doctor and a psychoanalyst. He published psychoanalysis articles two years earlier, in a magazine in Reus, Fulls Clinics (Tosquelles, 1935), edited in Reus during the Second Republic, expression of the scientific environment generated in the city at that time. He also participated in the elaboration of his master’s treatise on psychiatry, and began in the so-called “extension psychiatry”, a term devised by his teacher in the biopsychosocial line, the embryo of the subsequent sector and community psychiatry, sensitive to the interlocution of psychiatry with the other social domains of its impact. […]

Iñaki Markez Alonso et al.
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