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My Dad’s House

My dad was an untreated schizophrenic person when he died in 2012.

This is how we found his house after he had been lying dead for approximately 3 days. As a photographer, I had to photograph his house. Also because putting a camera between reality and my eyes, is a way for me to create distance between my emotions and the matter I am photographing. So afterwards, while looking at the pictures, I could slowly digest the painful issue.

In his house I also found 8859 pages handwritten text, on which he described, almost by minute, what he was thinking, doing, eating, drinking and descriptions of his pee and poo. He believed in a reality in which he was ‘radiated’ by external parties that were ‘against’ him. He was sure his pee and poo showcased the evidence of these actions.

Off course you might think “How could you have let this come so far?” as my brother and I have known about this situation for more than 25 years. My mom tried to get my dad institutionalized. But when the ambulance showed up, my dad was making a walk, and the ambulance just didn’t wait for him to show up, they just simply left. Years after that, our aunt called my brother and she asked us to help to get my father institutionalized. My mom said to us: “Be aware what you are doing, it is your dad, he might never want to see you again”. I was around 20 years old then, and my brother and I decided not to help our aunt. We were being ripped apart between getting help for him and at the other side the possibility of not seeing our dad anymore.

So we stayed in contact with our dad and checked him out or had him over a few times a year. Then my dad starting experimenting on himself, he stopped eating and drinking. We called the authorities to keep an eye on him. And they did.

He was too smart to ever cross the line of hurting himself or others. And that is the basic rule in our Dutch system. As long as you do not hurt yourself or others, there is no reason to institutionalize a mentally ill person. Which, as this is a good example, could end up in a house like this.