Studium Generale: 'Beauty in Distress - Breaking Down Stigmas Around Mental Health' - Mirthe Berentsen

Lecture by Mirthe Berentsen

Mirthe Berentsen will talk about her residency at the mental health department of Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York via the Dutch organization Beautiful Distress and the novel she is working on, about language, privacy and psychiatry.

In March 2018 Berentsen wrote an op-ed in the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant that can be read as a plea to stop casually labeling people, as it leads to further stigmatisation of people that are actually suffering from their heads. In this article she points out the strength and danger of words and the context they are used in, as it’s easy to put a label on someone who loves to clean his house, or who is uncomfortable during social interactions. But this tendency, to analyse and stigmatise someones behaviour, causes persistent noise in both the political and personal conversation. If you disagree with someone’s views and you ridicule them by calling them crazy or untrustworthy you can avoid any debate and confrontation.

“There are several known cases of people in psychiatric hospitals who have such an aversion of the irreversible dominance and determinism of their own language that they refuse to use it any longer. For my narrator language is a catalyzer of their marginalized role in society.”


Mirthe Berentsen (1984) is a writer, journalist and cultural policy advisor. Berentsen worked in publishing in India and The Netherlands and as a cultural policy officer at the Dutch embassy in Berlin. With her background in politics, art and literature, Berentsen writes about manifestations and tendencies inside and outside society, radical innovators and challengers of the status-quo. Her articles and stories have been published in national and international publications such as: Art Asia Pacific, Das Magazin, De Groene Amsterdammer, Die Welt, E-Flux, LEAP, Metropolis M, Modern Painters, NRC Handelsblad, Sleek, Volkskrant, Vrij Nederland, et al. Berentsen holds an MA in Comparative Literature and Linguistics from the University of Amsterdam and the Freie Universität in Berlin.



22 november 2018 16.00 - 17:30


Auditorium KABK

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