It started with a ‘no’

220px-1979_-_BasagliaFoto800That is the title of a long review in this week’s TLS (4 Dec) of John Foot’s The Man Who Closed the Asylums (2015), a vivid and very rewarding history of the Italian revolution in mental care launched in Gorizia by Franco Basaglia who had taken up the post of director of the asylum there in 1961. John Foot gives particular emphasis to both the collective nature of the project and its leadership (noting the often underacknowledged role of Basaglia’s wife, Franca Ongaro) and the great diversity of the local routes which the revolution took, depending on cultural, historical, and institutional factors as well as the quirks of individuals and simple serendipity (there is a detailed account here, pp.191-220, of the aftermath of law 180/1978, ‘la legge Basaglia’, in Trieste up to 2001).

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