Commentary on Paolo F. Peloso’ paper "From surveillance to support. Some notes on dangerousness and control in psychiatry" (Psicoterapia e Scienze Umane, 2017, 51, 2: 285-296). Paolo F. Peloso discusses an important and often unspoken issue: psychiatry has always dealt with the control of mental patients’ dangerousness. The patients’ feelings of loss of control allow Peloso to extend the need of control to all patients. In place of a modality of "control/surveillance" (which is immobilizing), he suggests a modality of "control/support" (which is dynamic). The psychiatrist should have a prosthetic function for the patient. However, it is not clear why this function should belong only to the psychiatrist and not also to other mental health professionals. Furthermore, the distinction between surveillance and support is unconvincing because both are part of the treatment process. The boundaries of psychiatry are not clearly defined; only some general principles are spelled out, with the result that the psychiatrist is left with the difficulty of verifying how much control is needed. Peloso surely reveals a common hypocrisy, but it is possible that Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Italy have been closed because the idea of control is already pervasive in Community Mental Health Centers.
Keywords: Dangerousness in psychiatry; Control; Surveillance; Support; Mental patient