Phase III

Autumn 1978 - March 1983 (5 years)

Greta Guntern-Gallati, 1981/1982


Notes from GGG’s diary
Back in Switzerland

After two years in the USA we return to Switzerland. There we are confronted with expected as well as unexpected challenges while establishing a psychiatric in- and out-patient treatment facility integrated into a new general hospital.
I am consequently forced to divide my time between the psychiatric center and my atelier. Nevertheless, this is a period of great learning and growth.

I expect that resettling in good old Switzerland will be relatively quiet and peaceful, at least for me. Gottlieb, as the medical director of the new psychiatric center, has to build up the basic structures of a new institution, including a team of psychiatrists, nurses and secretaries, and train the staff in the theory and practice of systems therapy. I look forward to working full-time in my atelier.


Turbulent beginning
The smooth transition period, however, turns out to be a turbulent one. From the day the psychiatry center opens, patients begin rushing in and the phones keep ringing all day long. There are physicians who want to admit patients, patients asking for therapy and judges who require psychiatric opinions. The administration of the hospital has to cope with all kinds of bureaucratic problems, the police needs help with a maniac and thus the pressure builds up and keeps increasing. Soon we have to expand our staff because the core team is faced with ever growing demands.

On the first morning of the frenzy I have my breakfast in the hospital cafeteria before going house hunting. Gottlieb shows up and tells me that I should come and help, just for an hour or two. I get up and help… for the next two years! We want our pilot project to succeed. It is the first of its kind and if it fails, the doors will be closed for this type of innovation in psychiatry.


Make a virtue of necessity
In the circumstances, I find only little time for my artwork. Yet, despite all this, I am producing a considerable number of paintings and Syngenetics.

In this period, especially while running the video studio and filming therapy sessions all day long, I get a unique chance to deepen my understanding of the intricate web of relationships between individuals and the eco-systemic forces impinging upon them.