Sándor Kalmár M.D. Ph.D.
April 1st, 2010. It has already been three years since the Hungarian National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, founded in and operational since 1868, came to an end without any legal successors. The Institute was forced to close based on the decision of the Hungarian government. Much publication justifies the fact that Hungarian psychiatrists have always been concerned about the future of psychiatry; particularly in the latter decades when the research of the nervous system was dramatically improved. The cultic space of Hungarian psychiatry, based on century-old traditions, was utterly destroyed by on persons’ brutal, ministerial decision to close down the Hungarian National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology. The aim, or at least result of this decision was the eliminations of the national center of psychiatry in Hungary.
This sacred institution provided not only physical space but it also served several functions to the community. The activity of the Hungarian National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology became almost boundless, with recognized international success and scientific activity that expanded throughout the country. All of these ramifications were untimely truncates when the state chose to close down the institution.
The ruins of the Hungarian National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology resemble to me the remains of the Egyptian pyramids (likewise, looted out but remain dignified). The physical building remains, shouting in solitude towards the sky on Lipótmezo, with treasure-hunters constantly rummaging and removing the hidden treasures of the past times, with people of authority haphazardly destroying the valuable objects and documents of old times – rendering years of research and documentation inaccessible to current researchers. For the employees who had worked at the Institute, this decision concluded not only their own success and livelihood, but also the quality of care that they supplied to their psychiatric patients. This patient care was important to the employees themselves and similarly acknowledged within Hungary as well as beyond its’ borders.With the closing of the Hungarian National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, the robust human energy that was contained therein has naturally dispersed. Some of the participants have left for abroad, while others are working in different institutions; settling for inferior research conditions and efficiency.
This unfortunate loss is further debilitating when you consider the fact that the Hungarian population has suffered from both somatic and mental disorders at a rate that is significantly higher than other European countries. In 2007, the Standard Mortality Rate in Hungary was 69.4% worse that that of Austria and 68.1% than the average European mortality rate. This rate continues to climb. The Standard Mortality rate of Suicide alone was 135.4% higher in Hungary than it was in the 15 Member States of the European Union (before 2004), and the number of individuals born with brain abnormalities is much larger in Hungary than in neighboring Austria. Furthermore, 47% of the Hungarian population suffer from a chronic disease, with even higher trends presenting in Hungarians from low socio-economic backgrounds, as well as those above the age of 55 (2008). As the need for psychiatric aid in Hungary intensifies, the immigration of the Hungarian psychiatrists continues, further dwindling the remaining psychiatric supply in the country.
What is happening to you, Hungarian Psychiatry? Quo vadis Hungarian Psychiatry?
- Kalmár S: A magyarországi pszichiátriai ellátás helyzete és jövoje népegészségügyi szempontból. Psych Hung. 2010. (In Press)
- Yearbook of Health Statistics, 2008. Hungarian Central Statistical Office.
Edited by Debora Ganz, B.A.