and the Critique of the
Mental Asylum in Italy
Photo: Luciano D’Alessandro. Patients in Materdomini Psychiatric Hospital, Nocera Superiore (Salerno)(1967)
From the early 1960s there was a growing movement in Italy against the practice of confining people designated as mentally ill within institutions known as manicomi (mental asylums). One of the most vociferous and controversial figures in this movement was Franco Basaglia (1924-1980). In this specially convened panel discussion, held in the 90th anniversary year of Basaglia’s birth, three scholars will look at the history of this movement, which would result in Italy in the eventual closure of all non-penal mental asylums, and at the wider international context in which it took place. John Foot (University of Bristol) will analyse the theoretical and practical features of the movement from 1961 to the Law 180 of 1978 (the so-called “legge Basaglia”), which initiated the closure of all asylums. He will look at the movement’s geographical and institutional spread and the role of politicians, publishers and the mass media in bringing about change within and outside the asylum system. Camille Robcis (Cornell University) will add a comparative context by looking at the movement after the Second World War of institutional psychotherapy in France, which advocated a radical restructuring of the asylum in an attempt to rethink and reform psychiatric care and was an important point of reference for the Italian movement. David Forgacs (NYU) will moderate the discussion and will consider some of the ways in which photographers and filmmakers looked at asylums and the people in them.
For the program and more information, click here.