This blog post is part of the students (Master Studies of Social Sciences) study module Working and Stydying in International Environment. The focus of this study module is that the students can strengthen their communicative skills and professional experience in an international learning environment and learn effectively as a team member in another cultural environment. During this study module we visit in Brussels and Gent (24th-26th of September).

Picture 1: God is love – window painting in the Dr. Guislain Museum. Picture: Heli Malkki
Picture 2: The writers of the blog arrive at Ghent train station. Picture: Tiina Hyvönen


DEUS EST CARITAS – from the lobotomy to the love of charity

There are buildings from the Middle Ages in Ghent. Our trip ended with a bus and a tram. Ghent is known for its urban design and environmental friendliness. We visited museum of psychiatric hospital and explored the beautiful city center of Ghent.

A visit to Ghent

We came from Brussel by train at 25th September 2019 to beautiful Ghent. The fantastic landscape and the fresh air made a strong impression on us. We found that residents are likely to ride a bicycle and use a lot of public transport. Ghent is the third biggest city in the Belgium and one of the oldest cities and the area of Flemish. In Ghent live about 250 000 people in the Belgium´s Flemish area.

Picture 3: View from Ghent train station bike park. Picture: Heli Malkki

Our local guides, Inge Waelput and Tine Vangaever, met us at the train station. Inge and Tine are working with the young and the old people in the Ghent. We went by the bus number 65 to the museum of psychiatric hospital, Dr. Guislain. The museum is named by founder of the museum. Earlier the museum was a hospital of the monk friar. The hospital first saw the light of the day in 1857. Later the operation expanded, and the public sector started to uphold it.  At most, the hospital had over 500 patients and nearly twenty patients in the same room.

Picture 4: Our local guides Tine Vangaever and Inge Waelput. Picture: Sanna Nyyssönen

The Dr. Guislain Museum

Dr Josef Guislan (1797-1860) was extremely popular in Gent. He organized modern psychiatry together with Brothers of Charity. The Dr. Guislain Museum is in the old Guislain Hospital, the first Belgian mental hospital. Treating madness for centuries is a mixture of magic, religion, force and care, control and science.

In the museum our guide was Dirk Reynhout. He is a professor of the new teaching school, campus Guislain. The new teaching school started about ten years ago. Dirk Reynhout told us very excited by the history of the hospital and the history all of psychiatry. He told us including how the stone is removed from the brain of patient, the lobotomy, the blood-letting and the electrotherapy. He also told about the medication and the different occupational therapies like the music therapy. Before the patient had just one illness, today the patients have more multidiagnosis. Dirk Reynhout told that these days the psychiatric nurses must to learn over 182 medicines in the Belgium.

Picture 5: In the Dr. Guislain Museum a description of lobotomy. Picture: Sanna Nyyssönen

We went to the hospital garden. The garden was beautiful and very elegant. We were told that the buildings had Italian influences. But we heard that over a hundred years ago, the garden was not as beautiful as it is today. Before the garden was the only place where the patients were exercise outdoors.

Dirk Reinhout wanted to illustrate to us, how tiny is the difference between the healthy and the sick mind. We went to explore an art exhibition in the hospital building. The works were intense and unique. In conclusion, Dirk Reinhout wanted to point out that all psychiatric symptoms are not psychiatric illnesses. It is normal to show up how you feel and to express emotions. Today the diagnoses like ADHD are made too many and too often. By the diagnoses are tried to explain the difference.

All psychiatric symptoms are not illnesses. By the diagnoses are tried to explain the difference, said Dirk Reinhout.

Picture 6: A work of art from a museum exhibition. Tiina Hyvönen

After the visit in the museum, Inge and Tine took us to eat together to the local Irish pub. In the pub one of the thirsty students got in the end the cider. Belgium is known for its beer culture. With us there were also the group of welfare coordinators students and teachers Pirjo Turunen and Riitta Turjamaa. The welfare coordinators students tell about our master’s degree programme. Inge and Tine tell us of theirs own studying and working careers. In Belgium, the elderly is not placed in rest home. The elderly is taken care of at home as in Finland. Tine, who works in a retirement home, has been to school for four years after 18 years. Inge told that young people who have challenges in their lives come to school two days a week. They wondered how long we were studying and studying while we were working. The food was good, and the service was friendly, and the company was excellent.

Picture 7: A good lunch at a local Irish pub. Picture: Mirva Korhonen

The beautiful architecture

After eating, we walked the streets of Ghent; the architecture was beautiful. After the tour, Inge and Tine escorted us to the train station where we say goodbye. In Ghent, we were especially pleased with the hospitality, the beautiful landscapes and the cleanliness.

Picture 8: Historic buildings in downtown Ghent. Picture: Mirva Korhonen

After leaving Ghent we were left wondering, why society still want to isolate different people like in the Middle-Ages. Technology doesn`t replace people. Humanity is the most important. The man is most important to man!

A warm thank you to Inge, Tine and Dirk and everyone else for a memorable day.


Writers are students of Master’s degree Programme in Social Services ( SS18SY). Study module is Working and Studying in International Environment.



Dr. Guislain Museum


Mirva Korhonen
Veli Leskelä
Heli Malkki
Sanna Nyyssönen
Students of Master’s degree Programme in Social Services

Pirjo Turunen,
Lecturer of Social Sciences

Savonia University of Applied Sciences

Get to know the beautiful Ghent, the history of psychiatry and hospitality


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