Erving Goffman revisited: How extensive is the contribution of today’s commu-nity mental health services in Italy to the moral career of the mental patient? In his 1961 book Asylums, Erving Goffman describes how the mental hospital promotes the career of the mental patient. Upon admission to the institution, the person is systematically, albeit often un-intentionally, mortified through a series of abasements, degradations and profanations of the self and is stripped of his individuality. In this way, the institution creates a population of inmates, reduced to obedience and standardized in their needs, that can be managed in large number in a reduced space and with few resources. This paper then investigates whether the present organization of Italian community-based psychiatric services presents similar detrimental effects and suggests possible scenarios for further developments of our model of community mental health.
Keywords: Asylums; Career; Mental patient; Community psychiatry; Alternative treatments