Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Talk therapy?

Mr. Sun! sends word of Radio La Colifata, a popular radio program run by mental patients. Live from a Buenos Aires mental institution:
This is Radio La Colifata, which in Buenos Aires slang means Crazy Radio - the first radio show in the world to broadcast live from a mental hospital...

"The radio releases you and the wall around the hospital no longer exists. The antenna knocks it down (says one patient)".

More than a therapy, the show has proven popular with an estimated 12 million listeners.

Taxi driver Hector Eduardo Costa listens as he works through the night.

He says: "They aren't so crazy as people often think. They say things that are spot on. Sometimes they write poems, sing songs, and it is very interesting."

Away from the media limelight, the hospital says the show has had great therapeutic results.

Thirty percent of patients who participate are released, and not one of these patients who continues outpatient therapy at Radio La Colifata has been readmitted.

That compares with two-thirds of patients being readmitted if they do not continue outpatient therapy with the radio, its creator Mr Olivera says.

The Radio La Colifata team are now trying their hand at television, with their debut on Canal 7, as part of its health programme.

Patient Hugo Norberto Lopez is presenting as part of his outpatient treatment.

He believes Radio La Colifata plays an important educational role in society: "It de-mystifies mental illness.

"In my district, I thought they would say: 'Hey, look at the crazy guy,' but it's the opposite. They embrace me in the streets and congratulate me. It shows people are beginning to understand."
If you're fluent in Spanish, the Radio La Colifata website should be interesting...

(Mr. Sun appears to be an astute observer of character and behavior. One example: in "Meet the parents," he memorably describes "the twelve stereotypical youth sports parents present at nearly every game.")

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