BREAKING THE CHAINSHuman rights violations against people with mental illness in Indonesia

  • Erminia Colucci

Student thesis: Master of Philosophy


The DVD contains a 65 minutes film titled 'Breaking the chains', which is the main element of my thesis for the MPhil in Ethnographic Documentary, and a companion text. The film depicts the use of physical restraint and confinement of people with mental illness in Indonesia, a practice known as pasung. In particular, I followed the activities carried out by the community organization Komunitas Sehat Jiwa (KSJ, which translates to 'Community for people with mental illness', based in Cianjur, West Java), which is lead and run by people also with mental health problems. The film features five persons held in pasung and their families. I filmed the way community members from KSJ approach the families; how they work with them; the challenges they face in convincing the families and/or the persons in pasung to start medical treatments and then, eventually, release the person from pasung; and some of the issues (at the individual, family, community, and system levels) surrounding keeping the person free. The companion text provides a brief socio-cultural and political context to pasung -including an overview of the limited literature available on this practice- as well as my reflections on the making of 'Breaking the Chains' and the use of film as an applied, public and activist methodological device.
Date of Award31 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPaul Henley (Supervisor) & Angela De Souza Torresan (Supervisor)


  • medical anthropology
  • healing
  • schizophrenia
  • Indonesia
  • mental health
  • Ethnographic documentary
  • human rights

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