Lizzie Dearden writes at the Independent:
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“Half of Geel is crazy, and the rest is half crazy,” runs a joke often told about the Belgian city of Geel.
On the surface, it may seem unremarkable with its pretty market square and river views, surrounded by the Antwerp countryside.
But wandering around its plazas and cafes, visitors may notice that some of the residents seem slightly “eccentric”, and with good reason.
The city is home to hundreds of mental health patients, who live not in psychiatric hospitals but with local families as part of a unique model of care dating back centuries.
Mike Jay, an author and cultural historian, has visited Geel to explore its unusual system.
Speaking to The Independent, he said the perception of “madness” as we know it does not exist.
“The people of Geel very studiously avoid all that language in a way I think is quite admirable,” Mr Jay added.