Basaglia: A paradigm shift in psychiatry. Thoughts on the reality of madness

Author/s Graziano Valent
Publishing Year 2018 Issue 2018/2 Language Italian
Pages 23 P. 27-49 File size 1856 KB
DOI 10.3280/RSF2018-002003
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Basaglia’s revolutionary work (Franco Basaglia 1924-1980) wiped out the secular notion of asylum as key service for psychiatric care. Despite this epochal change, current psychiatry still appears submerged by the power of scientific knowledge and by the simplifying reductionism of contemporary mental health treatments. The author, in line with Basaglia’s paradigm shift, highlights one of the conceptual roots of the Law 180 (the Italian Mental Health Act of 1978, that entails the demise of all psychiatric asylums): in a perspective approach to the comprehension of the relationship between reason and madness, a fundamental question appears in the encounter with the mad person, i.e. the sense of reality. The comparison between Basaglia’s and Valent’s surprisingly similar thoughts (Italo Valent, philosopher, 1944-2003) reveals the alleged incongruity between madness and reason offering a novel anthropological perspective on the mad individual. This theoretical approach explores the notions of identity and negation - both present in the dialectical concept of reality - then examines the current prejudice, that defines the mad person as an unintelligible being, thus describing madness as a possible way of being, not as an "error", but as a specific way of experimenting the constitutive limits of meaning. The author then emphases that delirium is no other than reason, a manner of reason, an absolute truth that "distances itself" from reality, i.e. reifying reality into a persecuting enemy and reifying itself into a conviction that turns out to be as irreducible as the reality it denies. Henceforth, therapy should revive its primary meaning of "service", i.e. putting aside the clinical and institutional canons to face the challenge of the encounter with the mad person. This is the only way for a new "pragmatic knowledge" to take shape, opening new paths for mutual transformation, collective responsibility and citizenship.

Keywords: Revolution, reality, madness, dialectics, impossibility-of-nonsense, ethics

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Graziano Valent, Basaglia e i mutamenti del paradigma psichiatrico. Riflessioni sulla realtà della follia in "RIVISTA SPERIMENTALE DI FRENIATRIA" 2/2018, pp 27-49, DOI: 10.3280/RSF2018-002003