Retratos de la locura en el Museo Archivo de la Fotografía

castaeda

(Mex) El inicio de los festejos del Centenario de la Independencia, en 1810, estuvo marcado por un acontecimiento altamente simbólico: la apertura en Mixcoac de un centro de tratamiento para las personas que, sin ser delincuentes, “merecían” ser separados y aislados de la sociedad. Tal como lo establecían las corrientes en boga del mundo civilizado europeo, era una forma de manifestar claramente ante el mundo que México dejaba de ser una nación atrasada ycomenzaba a figurar como una nación reconocida.

Así, el denominado Manicomio General, recibió la visita no sólo de enfermos mentales -según se entiende ahora a la luz de la ciencia médica – sino también de estafadores, merolicos, drogadictos, homosexuales, sifilíticos y toda clase de personajes que se considerara debían ser segregados y desacreditados por la sociedad.

Denominado comúnmente como La Castañeda -dado que el predio en que se construyó se encontraba la Hacienda del mismo nombre – el lugar pronto se convirtió en un sitio mítico para el imaginario popular. Constantemente, se le veía con negatividad a causa de las tenebrosas historias que se contaban sobre los sucesos encerrados por sus muros. La realidad poco ayudaba a desmentir las habladurías del público y así es como aún ahora, hablar de La Castañeda es hablar de un espacio que se encuentra a un costado del Tártaro.

Si bien es notorio recordar en descargo que los más eminentes médicos psiquiatras hasta la década de 1960 se formaron en este centro, y que fue allí donde se pudieron dar los más significativos avances para la atención psiquiátrica del país, la exposición que prepara el Museo Archivo de la Fotografía pretende dejar de lado tales eventos,  a favor de mostrar las imágenes de los “habitantes cotidianos”, como si los médicos e internos no fueran también parte de la vida cotidiana de un centro de salubridad.

Aunque las instalaciones del Manicomio General estuvieron diseñadas en su tiempo para recibir hasta 1,200 pacientes, este número con los años se vio fuertemente superado, llegando a albergar hasta 3,500 individuos. Esto, aunado a la incuria y el descuido de las autoridades en el mantenimiento de las instalaciones, obligó a implementar acciones de sanidad que atentaban contra la dignidad humana de los internos: fumigaciones masivas y baños con manguera fueron cosa común.

La exposición lo refleja claro: no sólo han dedicado un espacio exclusivo para mostrar fotografías del descuido de baños, tinas y albercas de tratamiento, sino también la presentación de una tina de porcelana de la época – cual minimalista objeto- que adquiere su mórbido significado de las imágenes a su alrededor, para satisfacer lo que las fotografías aparentemente más inocentes pudieran dejar de lado sobre la hórrida vida dentro de La Castañeda.

El resto de las fotografías corresponden, por un lado, a la inauguración de las instalaciones;  por otro, a documentos de la vida diaria durante las primeras décadas del siglo XX (dado que las fotografías pertenecen al Archivo Casasola, no abarcan más allá de la década de 1930). En el primer conjunto se muestran los documentos fotográficos que dan fe de los pomposos acontecimientos con que el presidente Porfirio Díaz dio inicio a los festejos del Centenario de Independencia.

En contraste, en el último grupo hay una variedad de documentos (entre ellos los ya citados de las instalaciones), pero destacan los que muestran la rapidez con que el sitio se vio rebasado en su capacidad planeada. En efecto, en pocas imágenes no se encuentran testimonios de hacinamiento: pabellones con personas recostadas en suelos, camas  y apoyadas contra muros, imágenes de enfermos separados por una reja, servicios de limpieza saturados.

Por si fuera necesario, también se exhiben reproducciones, curiosas todas, de documentos pertenecientes a una paciente  interna durante la mejor época de La Catañeda, en los que documenta su propia visión de los excesos cometidos cuando se administraban los tratamientos -rudimentarios- con que la institución forjó su funesta fama.

El Manicomio General de México cerró sus puertas en 1968. El mismo año en que México procuraba ser reconocido por la comunidad de naciones como un país moderno y funcional, según los criterios de moda en el mundo “civilizado”, es decir Europa y Norteamérica, mediante la organización de las Olimpiadas. Fue sustituido en sus labores por diversas instituciones que atenderían adecuadamente a quienes se alojaron en sus muros, formadas en buena parte por el interés profesional de médicos especialistas.

Su historia queda inevitablemente asociada a los excesos y la incuria de las autoridades y la sociedad. Es justo recordarla ahora, en el momento en que México desea demostrar ante la sociedad internacional que puede mantener un orden económico y social mediante la” eliminación” de amenazas a la seguridad.

AM/RL

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