Flavia Piola



Gli Alienati al tempo del Coronavirus

Rome, April 27, 2020. We are in the Psychiatric Diagnosis and Care Service (S.P.D.C.) of the San Filippo Neri Hospital.
In a period in which the health emergency from COVID-19 disrupts our daily lives, forcing us to experience "forced" isolation, our condition is approaching the daily "normality" experienced by SPDC patients. Disoriented by their illness, the “Alienates”, as they were called by Théodore Géricault in his early 19th century portraits, struggle to accept the new security measures; social distancing, hygiene and masks are measures that are irreconcilable with their pathologies. In this period, the admissions of people in a state of agitation, coming from unprotected environments, with highly emotionally responsive behaviors, involve risks not only for the health of the nurses, but also for the entire department. Swabs and constant checks are the regularity to prevent the appearance of any infections. On the other hand, the risk of contracting the virus is not the only problem that psychiatric patients have to face: in her studies, psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad, of Brigham Young University, associates a drastic deterioration in health, physical and mental, the concomitance of a state of loneliness (subjective feeling of being disconnected from society, of not having close affections) and of social isolation (objective condition of distancing).

SPDC patients effectively live their daily lives in marginalization and quarantine has thus had major repercussions on their vulnerabilities. Finding comfort only in relationships with family members, other patients or browsing social networks, health workers in this phase have thus played a decisive role in their survival.
However, not only the limitations listed above are present to aggravate the quality of their life, but also the side effects of psychotropic drugs drastically affect their ability to adapt.

Therefore, the photographic project "Alienates at the time of the Coronavirus" was born from the desire to give a voice to them.

Left in silence, further isolated, a "borderline" topic even today, the Alienates spend their days not only fighting against an invisible enemy, but also against the indifference of those who should protect them. The "delicacy" in addressing certain topics only increases the gap between us and them, creating an opposite effect and isolating them as a taboo issue.