The author describes the relationship between Enrico Morselli - a key scholar of Italian positivist psychiatry, and one of the founders of this review RSF - and Giovanni Antonelli - an itinerant and anarchist poet, several times imprisoned, or locked up in mental asylums. Their relationship became intense and significant, maintaining however an ambivalent touch on both sides: i.e. Morselli considered Antonelli a poetic genius, but also a patient to be commiserated and contained. Antonelli - who clearly perceived Morselli’s ambivalent and sometimes instrumental attitudes - regarded him as his benefactor. Morselli was one of the first persons to reveal Antonelli’s literary skills. He expressed affection for him with a paternalistic touch. Morselli was also, however, a young and ambitious advocate of the objectifying and doctrinaire psychiatry of that period. Nonetheless, he was determined to include Antonelli’s human and artistic adventure in his psychiatric framework. The author highlights also that Antonelli did interact with other psychiatrists in different mental asylums. The poet’s sagacious judgments on psychiatry offer today a precious documentation for historians, psychiatric professionals or patients interested in a critical vision of psychiatry and patient empowerment.
Keywords: Enrico Morselli, Giovanni Antonelli, mental asylum, genius, psychiatry, relationship