The origins of neuropsychiatric renewal in Milan

A.O. Brundusino1, S. Cairoli2 and F. Federici1
1Hospital Direction Fiorenzuola d' Arda Hospital, Piacenza, and 2C. Mondino Foundation, Clinic of Neurology, School of Medicine, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy

In the history of Medicine, the spiritualistic conceptions of madness dominated since the XVI century, showing no traces of either the influence of Hippocratic and Alexandrian Schools, or the charity spirit, flourished after the year 1,000 AD all over Europe, particularly in Italy. In the Middle Ages, Alexander of Tralles, Paul of Aegina, and Avicenna in vain referred to Hippocrates, to Aretaeus, to Aurelius, who had pointed out that the origins of mental diseases were similar to those of any other illness. Subsequently, psychiatric agnosticism continued even when Vasalva devoted himself to the observation and to the medical therapy of patients with mental diseases, instigating the study of cerebral alterations detectable at autopsy, and even when the anatomopathological trend promoted by Morgagni made medicine achieve great progress and incited physicians to consider madness as a disease with a cerebral seat. It was only in the middle of the 19th century that flourished again the directions which might free psychiatry of the yoke of metaphysic and spiritualistic psychology in order to lead it towards the general pathology and biology. In Italy, the most outstanding representatives of this awakening were Andrea Verga and Serafino Biffi. They began the renewal that was to lead to the essential accord between neurology and psychiatry, because mind and brain are not separated, but together. They tried to merge science and pity for a progressively true comprehension of social troubles.


Poster Session I
Friday, 20 June 1997, 12.15 - 12.45

Second Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN) and 6th Meeting of the European Club on the History of Neurology (ECHN)

Leiden, The Netherlands