Nise: Heart of Madness

Brief review of Nise da Silveira’s film written by Thiago Andreieve

“One of the first women to graduate in medicine in Brazil, Nise da Silveira, also the only woman in her class, had to face several adversities, including those related to gender, to work with and expose her ideas about the universe of madness ; finally, contributing grandly to psychiatry, at the same time, he played a fundamental role in the anti-asylum struggle.

The film portrays a brief but remarkable phase in Nise’s history. Upon leaving prison (punishment for the possession of Marxist books), he passed a competitive examination to work at the Engenho de Dentro Psychiatric Hospital. At that time, techniques such as electroshock and lobotomy were on the rise. However, she did not believe in violence as a treatment for disturbances. Thus, for refusing to adopt such methods, she was transferred to the hospital’s Occupational Therapy Sector, despised by other doctors. There, Nise was able to express her humanized view of the “crazy”, and as such, she discovered ways to treat and alleviate pathologies, while also discovering potentials in patients (who she called clients), and theorizing about them, sometimes relating to Jung’s studies.

There is no sensationalism or great drama. The protagonist always manages to face situations calmly, even if worried. Audiovisual production, unlike the ordinary, humanizes the asylum. There is no way in most movies, that atmosphere of horror or suspense in relation to space. Very important, albeit unconsciously, for the viewer, the film is surrounded by symbologies, and its art direction is excellent. This fact can be summarized in the very first scene, in which Nise insists on knocking on a large metal gate, with an even bigger wall, which plays a symbolic role of dividing the waters, to the point where “reality” is outside of it. , and within the unconscious, perhaps “heart of madness”.

Nise’s contribution is not limited to Psychiatry, it extends to all of Medicine. Within Occupational Therapy, he developed creation and the arts as a treatment, capable of regulating emotions, and even indicating specificities of the pathology. His human vision of his “clients” is reinforced, through signs, by the script and direction, as well as good performances, of course. In each one, ways, tastes, fears, stories, trajectory, abilities and, mainly, HUMANITY are evidenced.”


Written by Feitosa-Santana

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