Posts Tagged ‘ Italy ’

New issue – History of Psychiatry


The second issue of 2017 of History of Psychiatry is now available and could be of interest to H-madness readers. The issue includes the following articles:

Philippe Huneman, From a religious view of madness to religious mania: the Encyclopédie, Pinel, Esquirol.

This paper focuses on the shift from a concept of insanity understood in terms of religion to another (as entertained by early psychiatry, especially in France) according to which it is believed that forms of madness tinged by religion are difficult to cure. The traditional religious view of madness, as exemplified by Pascal (inter alia), is first illustrated by entries from the Encyclopédie. Then the shift towards a medical view of madness, inspired by Vitalistic physiology, is mapped by entries taken from the same publication. Firmed up by Pinel, this shift caused the abandonment of the religious view. Esquirol considered religious mania to be a vestige from the past, but he also believed that mental conditions carrying a religious component were difficult to cure.

The debate on the causes and the nature of pellagra in Italy during the nineteenth century resembles and evokes the similar debate on General Paralysis of the Insane (GPI) that was growing at the same time in the United Kingdom. Pellagra and GPI had a massive and virulent impact on the populations of Italy and the UK, respectively, and contributed to a great extent to the increase and overcrowding of the asylum populations in these countries. This article compares the two illnesses by examining the features of their nosographic positioning, aetiology and pathogenesis. It also documents how doctors arrived at the diagnoses of the two diseases and how this affected their treatment.

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Italian Psychology and Jewish Emigration under Fascism From Florence to Jerusalem and New York


Patrizia Guarnieri, Professor of Cultural and Social History at the University of Florence, has just published a book on the fate of the persecuted Jewish psychologists in Italy. The blurb reads:

Fascism and the racial laws of 1938 dramatically changed the scientific research and the academic community. Guarnieri focuses on psychology, from its promising origins to the end of the WWII. Psychology was marginalized in Italy both by the neo-idealistic reaction against science, and fascism (unlike Nazism) with long- lasting consequences. Academics and young scholars were persecuted because they were antifascist or Jews and the story of Italian displaced scholars is still an embarrassing one. The book follows scholars who emigrated to the United States, such as psychologist Renata Calabresi, and to Palestine, such as Enzo Bonaventura.  Guarnieri traces their journey and the help they received from antifascist and Zionist networks and by international organizations. Some succeeded, some did not, and very few went back.

For more information, click here.

Dissertations – The Making and Travelling of Knowledge

Maria Böhmer: “The Making and Travelling of Knowledge. A Biography of a Medical Case History in Nineteenth-Century Europe”

The dissertation is a close study of a single medical case history published by an Italian Professor of Surgery in 1806 which tells the story of a spectacular attempt at public self-crucifixion in Venice: Cesare Ruggieri’s Storia della crocifissione di Mattio Lovat da se stesso eseguita. Mattio Lovat came to Venice at the beginning of the 19th century from the north-Italian mountains to work there as a shoemaker. Obsessed with the idea of crucifying himself, he tried twice to realize this idea in public, the second attempt leading to his being placed under the care of the physician Cesare Ruggieri in the Venetian Clinical School. After his physical recovery, Lovat was declared insane and was hospitalized at the Venetian mental asylum on the island of San Servolo, where he died several months later.


The frontpage of the English translation of Ruggieri’s Storia della Crocifissione which appeared in 1814 in the Pamphleteer. Respectfully dedicated to both houses of Parliament, Vol. 3, no. IV (London: A.J. Valpy: Chancery Lane, March 1814), pp. 361-375.

Shortly afterwards, Ruggieri published the Storia della crocifissione in which he related the biography of his patient, suggesting that Lovat’s mental condition was related to the fact that he suffered from pellagra, at that time a wide-spread but little-understood disease in northern Italy: a consequence of the severe malnutrition produced by a staple diet of maize, pellagra caused general physical weakness, skin eruption and could also induce mental illness. Ruggieri himself ensured that the Storia della crocifissione appeared in different editions and translations during the following decades. As a result, the case became widely known across Europe, and was discussed in professional and lay discourses in Germany, France, England and Italy throughout the 19th century. It has thus become well known to this day as an early case of 19th-century psychiatry.

By way of situating Ruggieri’s case history in its multiple social, scientific and cultural contexts, the dissertation examines the great appeal the case had for a medical but also a broader lay public in 19th-century Europe: it reconstructs the “making” of the case in the local context of Venice and follows in detail the ways in which the case narrative circulated in between and within new contexts. By analysing the multiple transformations Ruggieri’s case history underwent when transcending geographical, linguistic and, above all, cultural and disciplinary boundaries, the dissertation sheds light on such developments as the formation of specialist disciplines, the emergence of a new media scene and a growing readership, the popularisation of science as well as new approaches to religious questions in 19th-century Europe. In reading the medical case history as an “epistemic genre” (Gianna Pomata), the study is informed by recent approaches in the history of science, medicine and psychiatry. In particular, it draws on recent scholarship on the history of the medical case history and offers a new approach to this field: it presents for the first time a “biography” of a singular medical case history in order to investigate the transnational circulation of medical case literature in 19th-century European culture.

Maria Böhmer (Ph.D.) is a post-doc at the Center for Medical Humanities, History of Medicine, University of Zurich. The dissertation was defended at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy in June 2013. She is currently preparing a book manuscript on the same topic.

Current article

The UC Disability Studies Blog compiles a monthly list of recently published historical articles about the broadly-defined concept of “disability”. This month, the list includes an article by Linda Reeder entitled “Unattached and Unhinged: The Spinster and the Psychiatrist in Liberal Italy, 1860-1922” (Gender & History, April 2012). Its abstract reads:

This article explores the role nineteenth-century Italian psychiatric sciences played in shaping attitudes towards adult women who never married. Initially in post-unification Italy unmarried women were largely invisible, while the bachelor appeared to threaten the newly formed nation’s fragile political and social stability. In the last decades of the nineteenth century fears about the bachelor faded, replaced by growing concerns about the social dangers posed by the `spinster’. Drawing on writings from psychiatrists, anthropologists, sociologists, on patient records from psychiatric asylums as well as popular literature, this article traces the way psychiatric practice and theories transformed the image of the unmarried single woman.

To access the article on the journal’s website, click here.

For the entire list on the UC Disability Studies blog, click here.

Deinstitutionalisation in psychiatry as a possible resource

A Romanian – Italian symposium of Psychiatry took place at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Carol Davila” (Bucharest) on November 25-26 2010. Here is the program:


Romanian – Italian symposium of Psychiatry

University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Carol Davila”- Aula Magna

(Bucharest, 25th and 26th November 2010)


8.45 – 10.10

Arrival of participants, introduction speeches

Panel 1

The Romanian and Italian experience of deinstitutionalisation in psychiatry

Chairman: Prof. Dr. Pompilia DEHELEAN, Head of The Romanian Association of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Pro-rector and Head of the Department of Psychiatry, UMF “Victor Babes” Timisoara


Matt MUIJEN, Regional Adviser for Mental Health WHO Regional Office for Europe – Challenges for community based mental health services in Europe


Prof. Dr. Ileana BOTEZAT ANTONESCU, President of the Romanian Federation of Psychotherapy, Director of The National Centre of Mental Health and Fight against Drugs Bucharest – Deinstitutionalization in mental health services in Romania – between aspiration and reality


Dr. Lorenzo TORESINI, psychiatrist ASL Merano – Deinstitutionalisation in Italy: Franco Basaglia and the introduction of ethics in the medical treatment


Prof. Dr. Dan PRELIPCEANU, Medical Director at “Prof. Dr. Alexandru Obregia” Psychiatry Hospital Bucharest – A reformation project of the mental health services – sources, solutions, and limits. A critical approach.


Prof. Dr. Luigi ATTENASIO, Director of the Mental Health Department of the ASL Rome C, National President of „Psichiatria Democratica Europa”

Dr. Walter GALLOTTA, Director of the psychiatric hospital service unit “Diagnosis and Treatment” S. Giovanni Hospital, Rome

Dr. Angelo DI GENNARO Basaglia theories and practices in a Mental Health Department of a metropolitan city: towards the implementation of international development programmes in co-operation with an NGO (CESVI)


Dr. Patrizia D’ONOFRIO, psychologist, ASL E Rome – Changes in the role of the care function following the law no. 180: an impressive challenge and a creative engagement


Dr. Roberto MEZZINA, Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre – Trieste Mental Health DepartmentDeinstitutionalization in East European countries: the role of WHO Collaborating Centre of Trieste in the reform process


Dr. Bogdana TUDORACHE, President of the Romanian League for Mental Health and Raluca NICA, psychologist, Director of the Romanian League for Mental Health – The role of NGOs in the development of mental health in Romania


Public debate


Lunch break

Panel 2

Overcoming contention as a milestone for deinstitutionalisation

Chairman: Prof. Dr. Tudor UDRIŞTOIU, Scientific secretary UMF Craiova


Dr. Bruno NORCIO, Deputy Director of Mental Health Department of Trieste and former Head of Psychiatric Emergency Service – Overcoming of contention. How can it be done?


Dr. Gaetano INTERLANDI, psychiatrist Caltagirone Catania – SPDC no restraint in the middle of a decentralised organization


Prof. Dr. Luigi ATTENASIO, Director of the Mental Health Department of the ASL Rome C, National President of „Psichiatria Democratica Europa”, Dr. Walter GALLOTTA, Director of the psychiatric hospital service unit “Diagnosis and Treatment” S. Giovanni Hospital, Rome and Dr. Angelo DI GENNARO – Reciprocity: against containment and in favour of  the dialogue with madness


John JENKINS, President of the International Mental Health Collaborating Network (IMHCN) – Whole life-recovery approach in community mental health


Prof. Dr. Florin TUDOSE, Dean of Psychology and Sociology Faculty, ”Spiru Haret” University Bucharest – Immobilization and contention as an aggression


Prof. Dr. Mirela MANEA, Head of the Department of Medical Psychiatry and Psychology, the Faculty of Dentistry UMF “Carol Davila” Bucharest – The careful surveillance versus the close observation for the patients with mental disorders


Public debate


End of the first day



Arrival of participants


The speech of Prof.Dr. Virgil PAUNESCU, Presidential Counsellor

Panel 3

Treatment through social inclusion. Cooperation, self-support, social assistance.

Chairman: Dr. Gianfranco PALMA, Director of the Mental Health Department ASL E Rome


Prof. Dr. Aurel NIREŞTEAN, Head of Department and General Chancellor UMF Tg. Mures – Deinstitutionalization and de-stigmatization


Dr. Gianfranco PALMA, Director of the Mental Health Department ASL E Rome – Changes in the culture and welfare systems in the process of social inclusion


Dr. Ruggero BRAZZALE, psychologist, Bassano del Grappa – Innovation models in the mental health services in the Mures region: the Marostica project.


Vasile GAFIUC, President of The Regional Association of Adult Education, Suceava – The role of NGOs in the process of decentralisation of the psychiatric system


Dr. Ilario VOLPI, psychologist, President of the integrated cooperative “Il Grande Carro” in Rome – Integrated cooperatives and the process of deinstitutionalisation


Dr. Mircea DRAGAN, Ploiesti Municipal Hospital – Disorganization in mental health from Prahova County


Coffee break


Dr. Jean-Yves FEBEREY, Head of Department, Henri-Guérin Hospital (Department of Var, France), doctor at Centre médical de la Mutuelle Générale de l’Education Nationale – Disorganization in mental health in France today


Prof. Dr. Alexandru PAZIUC, Psychiatric Hospital Campulung Moldovenesc – The role of the mobile team in the process of social inclusion of people with severe mental problems


Dr. Magda GHEORGHIU, MD Psychiatric Hospital Siret – Attempts to reintegrate people mentally retarded from institutions


Dr. Luigi LEONORI, psychologist, President of SMES-Europe – Psychic suffering and precariousness: prevention and  participation


Public debate


Lunch break

Panel 4

De-institutionalization in Eastern Europe and CIS States

Chairman: Prof. Luciano Sorrentino, Director of Mental Health Department “Franco Basaglia” ASL TO2, Professor of History of Psychiatry, Psychology Department, University of Torino


Dr. Nermana MEHIC-BASARA, MSc, neuropsychiatrist, Director of the Institute for Alcoholism and Substance Abuse of Sarajevo Canton, Bosnia and Herzegovina – From Centralised Services toward Community Based Psychiatry – Experiences from Bosnia and Herzegovina


Manana SHARASHIDZE M.D, psychiatrist, Director of the Georgian Association for Mental Health – Opportunities and obstacles for future de-institutionalization in Georgia


Dr. Markku SALO, Head of Research, The Finnish Central Association for Mental Health – From charity to productivity of persons. The importance of the protagonist in the individual


Public debate


Final remarks and conclusions of the symposium


Dr. Lorenzo TORESINI

Dr. Patrizia D’ONOFRIO

To see the pdf of the program, click here.

Archivi storici della psicologia italiana

Aspi – Archivi storici della psicologia italiana

Aspi ist ein interdisziplinäres, an der Mailänder Universität (Università degli studi di Milano-Bicocca) angesiedeltes Forschungszentrum zur Bewahrung und Erforschung von Archivquellen zur italienischen Geschichte der Psychiatrie im weitesten Sinn (also auch der Rechtspsychiatrie, Sozialpsychiatrie, Arbeitspsychiatrie, Psychoanalyse, klinische Psychiatrie….) . Das Forschungszentrum Aspi wurde 2005 mit der Erwerbung der Archiv- und Bilbiotheksbestände der Psychiater Vittorio Benussi und Cesare Musatti gegründet. Hinzu kam dann der Bestand von Giulio Cesare Ferrari und jener vom Soziologen  Giancarlo Arnao. Auf diese Archivquellen beziehen sich die einzelnen Links der Website.

Elena Taddei

Asylum of San Servolo

In the latest issue of  Psychiatrie Sciences Humaines Neurosciences the French psychiatrist  Granger tells the story of San Servolo, an island situated between San Marco and the Lido, from the 11th century on: first as the seat of a convent than of a mental hospital till its closure in the 1970s thanks to  the law n°180.


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