Starting from a drastic reduction in compulsory psychiatric admissions as a result of Italian Law no. 180/1978, the Author discusses the possibility that this law interrupted an abuse of compulsory admissions or, rather, left many patients unassisted. Law no. 180/1978 aimed at removing psychiatry from problems of social control, but it did not clearly specify how to deal with social control in alternative ways. It took from the psychiatrists’ hands the tools to exercise real control. The psychiatrists’ discomfort, both before and after the reform, is analyzed. The authoritarian system existing before the psychiatric reform of Law no. 180/1978 was certainly a source of discomfort. The psychiatric reform radically changed image and functions of the discipline, but a discomfort still remains and is probably due to a loss of clear identity of the profession.
Keywords: Italian Law no. 180/1978 on psychiatric reform, compulsory admissions in psychiatry, social control, identity of psychiatry, psychiatrists’ discomfort