On Radical Acceptance (& Not Fixing Your Kid)

If only we all could be this evolved. Reading this makes me ashamed of myself.

Star In Her Eye

There’s a small town in Belgium named Geel (pronounced hale with a throaty, Germanic H). By 1930, a quarter of its residents were mentally ill. If you know about Geel, you know this was not because something lurked in the water or food supply. It was because for 700 years families in Geel accepted mentally ill patients, or “boarders,” to live with them in their own homes. The town got a nickname: “Paradise for the Insane.”

I’ve never been to Geel, but I recently heard about it on NPR’s Invisibilia podcast. In the episode, reporter Lulu Miller interviews Ellen Baxter, a researcher who earned a grant to live in Geel for a year. Prior to this trip, Baxter had faked her way into a mental institution, wanting to find out about the therapeutic practices used. She saw virtually none. What she did see: people watching television, looking out the…

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2 thoughts on “On Radical Acceptance (& Not Fixing Your Kid)

  1. Living close to the border of Belgium, I am surprised I have never heard of Geel before! I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome last year, and while the 30+ years before that, my family, my friends, and everyone around me were aiming to ‘fix’ things as well. The same goes for myself. After the diagnosis, everyone basically stopped trying. There was acceptance. And I haven’t felt more ‘normal’ ever since. Despite still having the symptoms, of course. Thanks for sharing this, Andrew!


  2. Agree…this was (is) a beautiful message that is the very epitome of “acceptance.” Though it brings up some uncomfortable memories and emotions, I’m very glad to have read it. Thanks for sharing.


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