On Insanity and Its Classification (1793-1794)
Until now, there has been no English translation of Vincenzo Chiarugi's monumental work Della pazzia in genere e in specie which, written in the archaic style of eighteenth-century Italian, was published in three volumes in Florence in 1793–94.
Aside from containing a thorough review of past and contemporary psychiatric principles, Chiarugi's treatise is the expression of the mind of an unusual man who had been accorded an unusual opportunity. In 1788, at the age of 29, Chiarugi accepted the directorship of the Bonifacio Hospital of Florence, which had been opened in 1774 by Leopold of Tuscany. This was part of a vast program of social, political, religious, and economic reforms initiated by this ruler under the influence of the Enlightenment. The philosophy established at the hospital, which included a large section for the mentally ill, was based on humanitarian principles. In the regolamento of the hospital, published in 1789, such principles, which anticipated the tenets of the later moral treatment, were outlined by Chiarugi. This model institution provided Chiarugi with the ideal setting for observing the behavior of the patients and for developing his diagnostic and therapeutic skills. The present work reflects the insightfulness of his clinical judgment, based on the wealth of the data at his disposal, to which are added the descriptions of 100 cases, many of which were controlled by autopsies. Chiarugi's della pazzia, published some eight years before Pinel's traite medico-philosophique, is likewise, a classic in the history of psychiatry.