From Torture to Treatment: One Man’s Fight to Revolutionise Mental Health Treatment in Italy

While these travesties are more or less gone in the West, many psychiatric diagnoses, especially schizophrenia, do represent an end to most civil rights – effectively civil death

Wellcome Trust Blog

Wellcome Trust funded researcher Professor John Foot spent two years exploring the history of revolutionary psychiatrist Franco Basaglia. Basaglia’s views on the treatment of psychiatric patients changed the political landscape of Italy and the field of psychiatry. Freelance science communicator Georgia Bladon found out more…

Up until the 1960s, psychiatric patients in Italy were stigmatised as ‘ill’ and asylums were little more than prisons. Franco Basaglia was among a group of psychiatrists who revolted against the cruelty inflicted on these individuals and advocated more humane treatments to take its place.

When the young Franco Basaglia took over a single asylum in northern Italy, he was horrified by what he found. Patients were locked up, neglected, abused and restrained, leaving them terrified and powerless with very little chance of recovery or rehabilitation into society. Basaglia, so affected by what he saw, took a radical and rare step and began a campaign…

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