After almost 140 years, in Italy the Judicial Psychiatric Hospitals were closed down, and for the perpetrators an attempt was made to create a system consistent with the Law no. 180/1978 which focused on judicial measures and interventions in the community. This complex process highlighted several contradictions, for example the dialectics of care versus control and of "restraint" versus "no restraint" practices. Ensuring the imputability and the right to a fair trial, overcoming ambiguous and unscientific notions, is fundamental for the treatment of persons with mental disorders. The practice of "restraint" is in contrast with the law, is inapplicable in the current structure of psychiatric services and, in the long run, is ineffective and counter-therapeutic. The restraint position gives mental health professionals improper and impossible tasks, and exposes the psychiatrist to legal responsibilities. Italian psychiatry must overcome restraint practices through theoretical, clinical and organizational work by actively involving patients. The "no restraint" movement in the various Italian Regions shows that this is possible.
Keywords: Restraint in psychiatry; Treatment task in psychiatry; Coercion; Judicial Psychiatric Hospitals; Community psychiatry