Art Therapy for Victims of Culturally Enriched Gender-Based Violence

A hospital and museum in Barcelona are planning to use art to help “persons of different cultural origins” who have been subjected to domestic violence and other trauma-inducing episodes.

Pampasnasturtium, who translated the article for Gates of Vienna, includes this prefatory note:

Western art used to combat marital rape/wife-beating/clitoridectomy/taharrush-gamea/you-name-it… The nth attempt by the native Eloi to find solutions to problems caused by imported Morlocks.

Vall d’Hebron Hospital is world-class, second-to-none when it comes to research staff and installations. It’s featured weekly in local TV and print news for this or that positive scientific breakthrough, but I’m not so sure about this one…

There’s no mention of ethnicity or nationalities. Would we be right to suppose it’s more Middle East and Northern Africa than Latin America? A visual images activity quite likely directed at individuals whose upbringing conditions them to reject mimetic representation outright (‘haram’)? Sounds to me like another potential ‘€150 million to employ 120 persons’ scheme like the one outed this week in Milan.

The translated article from Europa Press news service:

National Museum of Art of Catalonia and Vall d’Hebron Hospital launch new treatments through art

February 11, 2019

Refugee and immigrant women under post-traumatic stress will test a therapy

The National Museum of Catalonian Art (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, MNAC) and the Vall d’Hebron Barcelona Hospital Campus have joined together to launch new treatments through art, the first of them in the field of psychology for some thirty women of diverse cultural origins who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to what was explained during a press conference this Monday by the head of Psychiatry Services at the center, Josep Antoni Ramos-Quiroga, it’s a ‘very ambitious’ project, since it will be the first time a strategy has been designed with persons of different cultural origins who have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

He stated that the therapy will start by the end of April, and will take place during ten sessions of two hours each, the first ones for reception/welcome, the others for unconscious feelings to come to the surface so the story of the trauma can be clearer, while at the same they will enable a ‘social interconnection among them [the patients]’.

Thirty patients have been selected in total — half of them will undergo the therapy at the hospital, and the rest in the museum — all of them having diverse cultural origins: (female) refugees and immigrant women, chosen this way because ‘more than 70% of immigrant women in Catalonia experience situations of gender violence’. [Translator’s note: ‘violencia de género’ is literally ‘gender violence’ but it’s locally understood, almost exclusively, as male-on-female domestic violence.]

Post-traumatic stress

All of the patients selected fit into a pattern of post-traumatic stress after having gone through different complex traumas, such as ‘sexual attack, mistreatment, abuse, heart strokes and second-degree burns’, which cause conditions of anxiety in them which they chronically relive time and again, with sleep and mood disruption, among others.

This therapy is intended to be an original and innovative improvement to allow the patients to form better interpersonal bonds, gain improvements in mood and achieve a higher self-esteem, as well as increasing resilience when confronted with future situations.

Ramos-Quiroga has said that after impacting these patients, the hospital is interested in expanding the therapy to autism, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and children with fetal alcohol syndrome.

The regional government’s Culture secretary, Laura Borràs, highlighted that culture has an important social dimension — it even ‘cures or can help cure’ — and has celebrated that the project will have an impact on women in vulnerable situations, and especially gender violence cases.

The health secretary, Alba Vergés, has manifested her conviction that culture offers many benefits to patients, and has also praised the project for starting with vulnerable women: ‘Persons are not vulnerable on their own, but instead they’re made vulnerable by situations they find themselves in.’

The director of the National Museum of Art of Catalonia, Pepe Serra, has expressed regret that 70% of society neither visits museums, nor knows whether they’re interested in them, due to the social gap: ‘It’s the great pending revolution’.

The head of Vall d’Hebron, Vicenç Martínez, has defended the fact that his center is the biggest public hospital in Catalonia, which assists 45,000 persons daily, and has celebrated that this project is a very important first step of a general agreement that must include a ‘MNAC Space’ within the hospital.

About this exhibition space he confirmed that the location has already been chosen within a big enough area, and that it will try to combat the stress which doctors, families and patients are subjected to: ‘It will be a place where one may go in order to relax,’ and where an audio recording will explain the works installed.

9 thoughts on “Art Therapy for Victims of Culturally Enriched Gender-Based Violence

  1. Swedish woman living in Spain here, I can vouch for what this entry says, Germany, the UK and Sweden are the usual suspects when the migration problem is discussed but let me tell you that Spain is even worse and has been so for a long time, Spain is under more than one fire for there are lots of migrants from south America , Africa and Middle East, the latin american gangs have been a big unsolved problem in Spain for some decades, now with the turmoils in central america and Venezuela the influx of migrants is increasing, for strange reasons Americans think that latin americans are just like spaniards, but that’s not true, they just speak spanish ( or their versions of it) but they don’t have the european mindset of spaniards, now Spain is also receiving lots of moroccans, tunisians, lybians, senegalese… and this just makes things worse, crime is totally out of control in Barcelona, we women live in terror, we don’t know who will grop , rape, assault us ¿a moroccan? ¿ a nicaraguan? ¿a ghanaian?, property crime is on the rise just like car hijacking , forced prostitution, female genital mutilations, child marriages taking place behind closed doors.. Spain needs a new reconquista ASAP.

      • Franco never stopped looking good for many Spaniards, I’d even dare say the nation is 50:50 divided on this topic and it’s not too hard to see why.

    • German man living in Sweden here, so happy that your old home still has such a vast countryside and you can put long stretches of snowy forest between yourself and the hotspots of madness. Occasional sightings of Afghans or Eritreans shoved down the throat of local employers by authorities, never lasted long but the memory of bad experiences does. Hope you have it good anyway.

      • That’s true K, my youngest sister lives in a nice, peaceful town named Älgarås , she rarely meets “strange faces” there, it’s a very nice place. My husband’s contracts expires next year and I want to move back to Sweden, maybe we’ll buy a farm, that would be a dream come true, but we definitely won’t live in Malmö again.

  2. ‘Persons are not vulnerable on their own, but instead they’re made vulnerable by situations they find themselves in.’

    Don’t worry about others. Worry about yourselves: Vulnerable are western women, and emasculated men, and vulnerable are every western country , city or village.


    Europeans are becoming paupers in their own nations. We literally mendicate from arabs : we beg what we stupidly call :moderate muslims ” to speak in our support and defend us against other and braver harsher . . . you guessed.

    The enemy is among us we cannot use nukes on ourselves, or we will. Our cleverness is useless.

  3. “Western art used to combat marital rape/wife-beating/clitoridectomy…” why dance around it and not call genital mutilation for what it is?

    ‘Persons are not vulnerable on their own, but instead they’re made vulnerable by situations they find themselves in.’ I believe this is a very naive outlook. Of course there are situations where, despite your best efforts to prevent it, something bad happens. But we see time and time again far too many migrant rape victims were terribly naive about what they’re exposing themselves to and I feel like this “the victim can never be at fault” rhetorics is only putting other people at risk, instead of clearly pointing the finger at the problem at hand – steer clear of migrants and your chances of being safe skyrocket. Of course this is nearly impossible for migrant women in question.

    Another reason why I don’t particularly like this project is the fact that, to understand art, you need at least some ability of abstract thinking – and research has shown that certain races are not really capable of abstract thought – so what good will it do to them?

    ‘It will be a place where one may go in order to relax,’ and where an audio recording will explain the works installed.” I’m afraid it won’t take long before the first rape in that place…

  4. Lovely gallery, sympathetically adapted from a 19th century building, with stunning views of the city (I was there in 2013), but apart from Canaletto’s “Judith and Holofernes”, the contents cannot compete with Madrid’s Prado. Sorry, Catalans!

    • It can’t compete with Madrid’s Prado and I think it doesn’t want to – they’re different, distant, and in a way complementary, things. (Well, who could anyway compete against the biggest collection of Rubens, Velázquez and Goya amassed during its original time of creation by the absolute rulers of what was at the time still the world’s biggest imperial power?).
      The MNAC was established much, much later, furthermore – and its heritage, appropriately, focuses on the two most artistically-effervescent eras for Catalonia: ‘Modernisme’ (roughly speaking, the local version of Art Nouveau) and Romanesque Middle Ages. : -)

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