History of Psychiatric Legislation in Italy

Ester Stocco, Claudia Dario, Gioia Piazzi, Paolo Fiori Nastro


The different models of mental illness which have followed one another in Italian psychiatry have been linked to the history of psychiatriclegislation and its various attempts at reform. The first law of the newly United State which unified legislations and former procedures, whose prevalent psychiatric theories were those that referred to degeneration, was the law 36/1904 that set up the asylums. Accordingly psychiatric praxis was focused on social protection and custody, given that the mentally ill was seen as incurable; Fascism added the inmate's obligation to be enrolled in the judicial register. Afterwards numerous attempts to reform the psychiatric legislation were made that eventually gave rise to law 431/1968 which paved the way to territorial psychiatry. Law 180/1978 changed the organization of Italian psychiatry abolishing asylums and the concept of dangerousness, including psychiatry in the National Health Service but adopting an idea of mental illness as simply social unease.

Key words: Asylums - Center for Mental Hygiene - Law 180 - Anti Psychiatry

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