Proposals for Mental Health in Italy at the End of the Nineteenth Century: between Utopia and Anticipating the “Basaglia Law”

Vincenzo Bongiorno*
Department of Education, Psychology, Philosophy, University of Cagliari, Italy

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© Vincenzo Bongiorno; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Education, Psychology, Philosophy, University of Cagliari, Via Is Mirrionis 1, 09123 Cagliari, Italy; Tel +390706757332; Fax: +390706753825; E-mail:


The present work refers to the debate which took place in Italy in the final years of the nineteenth century in relation to mental health and lunatic asylums, from which emerged various innovative proposals for avoiding compulsory confinement in numerous cases. Some of them became part of new legislative regulations regarding asylums, but most were excluded. Today, a new historical interpretation allows us to grasp a connection between Law 180, dated 1978 and known as the “Basaglia Law” from the name of its promoter, and alternative proposals to asylum custody omitted from the 1904 law.

Keywords: : Asylum, Curability, History of Psychiatry, Mental Health, Training.