Temporary stay and assistance centres (CPTs) receive and retain foreigners who are waiting for their immigration status to be determined or who are awaiting repatriation. The author analyzes both the institutional dynamics of these centres and their relation to the outside world, using a report issued during a visit and a number of documents collected for this purpose. The paper examines the social function of these centres, which seem to serve as a protection for the Italian society against the uncanny feelings engendered by the encounter with the Other. Therapeutic approaches will also be presented for looking after the migrant patient, taking into account aspects of mental suffering associated with the post-migration trauma.
Keywords: Immigrants, temporary stay and assistance centres, uncanny feeling, Italy, psychotraumatology, total institutions.