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Memoria e Ricerca

Spaces of the self: reflections on the «person» through placements in mental hospitals in Italy (XIX-XX century)

di Vinzia Fiorino
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 47 (2014), p. 11

This research, which is based on a sample of records from the former mental hospitals of Rome and Volterra, aims at giving an account of both the legal changes and the new perception of the individual. Spurred on by philosophical reflections and significant epistemological changes, around the 1960s there was an irreversible crisis of the traditional psychiatric paradigm based on the total objectification of the patient and on the impersonal and serial management of the “interned” population. This specific context has proved to be crucial because it is at the centre of different and contradictory philosophical reflections on the subject: 1) in the first place, the establishment of phenomenology which highlighted the central importance of the person identified with all the manifestations of his/her existence; 2) secondly, the vital importance of the psychology of the «rational man» and seeing human existence as a «presence in the world»; 3) furthermore the free acceptance of psychoanalysis with its emphasis on the fragmentation or the different manifestations of the ego; 4) finally, «the investigation of the human being», recalling Michel Foucault, a reflection which however would end up stressing devices for controlling the individual. Keywords: Medical records, Interrogation, Subjectivity, Phenomenology, Psychiatric paradigm, Internment