WAR RELATED NERVOUS DISORDERS IN SOUTHERN ITALY. Psychosis, melancholia, and alienation in the Girifalco asylum during the Great War

Oscar Greco

Abstract


War related nervous disorders in southern Italy. Psychosis, melancholia, and alienation in the Girifalco asylum during the Great War

The research aims to address the human journey and the drama suffered, between 1915 and the years after the Great War, by the soldiers from the southern Italy interned at the Girifalco (CZ) asylum. Through the study of medical records, it is possible to outline the irruption of new mental disorders caused by the life in the trench, as well as to ascertain how the Great War represented an irreparable fracture between the prevalently rural world in southern Italy and the incipient modernization of a society which was at its peak due to technology applied to war and to the “scientifi c organization of death”. From this perspective, the study of the distorted mental world of the many southern peasants/soldiers is enriched by new analytical insights enhancing the theme of psychosis and neurosis caused by the war. The act of war, not understood and substantially suffered by the subordinate classes from the south of Italy, turned into an experience of cultural apocalypse in which the disappearance of domestic horizons as well as of the corporeal existence, will leave room for a new experience of alienation and delirium mwhich will lead many fi ghters to seek refuge elsewhere in a universe covered by a mystical and apotropaic rituality.


Keywords


Great War, Asylum, Internment, Shell Shock, Modernity

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