Our therapeutic community was born out of the rejection of a situation presented as a given fact rather than as a product. The inmate in a psychiatric institution, instead of being seen as a patient, is the victim of an institutional violence that acts on all levels, for every act of protest has been defined within the limits of the illness. The level of degradation, objectification and total annihilation in which we find him is not purely the expression of a pathological state. Rather it is the product of the destructive action of an institution, which was created to protect the sane from madness. The act of treatment turns out to be a political act of integration […] in the practical sphere, a process of liberation.

Franco Basaglia, ‘Le istituzioni della violenza’, in Scritti 1953–1968. Dalla psichiatria fenomenologica all’esperienza di Gorizia, Turin: Einaudi, 1981.



In the impersonal world of the rule, of codified order, the sudden appearance of the fantastic, the unusual, the unknown, the new, the unexpected causes an abrupt interruption in the rhythm of everyday banality, making a breach for the anxiety into which humanity has cast itself.

Franco Basaglia, ‘Ambiguità e oggettivazione dell’espressione figurativa psicopatologica’, in Scritti 1953–1968. Dalla psichiatria fenomenologica all’esperienza di Gorizia, Turin: Einaudi, 1981.



It is more complicated to speak of Freud, but we can say that, frequently, the people who have significance in human history are the ones who define tensions in contradictions, openings. I think that humanity has always been divided into two parts: the inventors and the narrators. The narrators do nothing but study the techniques of those who have invented the contradictions. Probably both are necessary, but the important thing is that they should really enter into contradiction. That at least is the hope.


I am not opposed to the psychiatrist because he is a type of intellectual that I reject. I am a psychiatrist who wants to give the patient an alternative response to the one that he has been given up to now. Thankfully I think that we are moving toward a new humanism and I do not believe that humanity is condemned to progress. I think that man has always fought against nature and today finds himself in the contradictory position of struggling against nature but obtaining results that kill him. He is no longer in conflict with nature but in opposition to it. It is not conflict that kills man but opposition.

Franco Basaglia, Conferenze brasiliane, Milan: Raffaello Cortina Editore, 2000.