The Italian Psychiatric Experience
The 1978 Italian Psychiatric Reform was welcomed as a significant advancement in the care of the mentally ill, as it involved, for the first time ever, the complete shutdown of psychiatric hospitals in a major Western country. Today, Italian psychiatry is totally different from that of the rest of the world, due to its complete commitment to community care. The transition towards the community model was appraised by many relevant international organisations, such as the World Health Organisation, as a fundamental step towards a better quality of life, well-being and social functioning of persons with mental diseases.
This passage wasn’t easy, however, and the closure of Italian psychiatric hospitals was accompanied by notable setbacks in the treatment of the most severely affected persons, who often faced the inadequacy of a ‘crisis management’ system of care rejecting interventions in the long-term. In past decades, pro-reform authors also tended to refuse criticism of such obstacles, due to their extreme commitment towards the principles that inspired their practice.
This book provides a much-needed appraisal of the 1970s Italian Psychiatric Reform. With an independent viewpoint, it highlights the often-overlooked shortcomings of the reform, while also presenting a multi-faceted view in contrast with the ‘single-vision’ attitude often adopted in existing studies on this topic.
Alessandro De Risio is a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. During a residency in Psychiatry at L’Aquila University, Italy, he participated in nationally relevant research projects on psychosocial rehabilitation and took part in international research studies on cognitive disorders in persons with severe mental disorders. After this, he worked in therapeutic communities for the mentally ill. Since 2004, he has been a psychiatrist in the Italian National Health Service. At present, he is a psychiatrist in a Mental Health Department in Venice. He has authored more than 50 scientific and peer-reviewed publications.
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