Interview with Mircea Lazarescu

Mircea Lazarescu, Professor of Psychiatry at Timisoara Medical University, first president of the Romanian Association of Psychiatry after the Revolution of 1989, ‘grand old man’ of Romanian Psychiatry.

foto_lazarescuDuring the infamous dictatorship of Ceausescu, Prof. Mircea Lazarescu Chief Medical Officer of the Timisoara psychiatric teaching hospital, managed to keep the discussion going on the development of psychiatry in the Western World. To this effect and for more than ten years psychiatrists from all over Romania were invited to come to Gataia, to attend a meeting on psychiatry and psychoanalysis. Gataia being a psychiatric hospital in the countryside and connected to the university hospital in Timisoara. ´A hidden reunion’, as Lazarescu calls these meetings.

After the revolution in 1989 these annual meetings went public and attracted speakers from all parts of the Western World.In Romania many more areas existed where psychiatrists illegally practised psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, but through the years Timisoara remained the secret enclave where they met.

The sheer existence of this enclave was owed to his tutor, Eduard Pamfil, says Lazarescu. This professor had a special way to keep the outside world at a distance’, he adds. Pamfil, who studied in France, was kept well informed on his subject by his old contacts.He was in correspondence with colleagues abroad, who provided him, while outwitting the law, with books and journals. He even arranged a library on behalf of his students to study recent literature from the west.

When at the end of that same year Ceausescu’s regime was overthrown, Lazarescu had the necessary contacts to enter the international community. I received many invitations from abroad. Romania, that is where Lazarescu resides, they knew. I had a good rapport with the world of psychiatry. Community-psychiatry, which is in great demand nowadays, existed until 20 years ago, says Lazarescu.

´The Ministry of Health showed a complete lack of interest in psychiatry. The University Education Act of 1974 allows for modern psychiatric care. But no one is interested and consequently there is no money’. Angrily he adds that for prisons there is money at random.

´It is 15 years since the revolution, but in Timisoara psychiatric facilities have diminished compared to the beginning of the eighties. I had my time and I did my share. What should be done now, is beyond my capacity. We need a long-range plan, on a national level. And we should commit ourselves to effectuate each year at least a part of that plan’.

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