Fascism, the corruption of psychiatry and the coercion and confinement of LGBT people in Italy, 1922-1943

Year of award: 2017


  • Gabriella Maria Romano

    Birkbeck, University of London

Project summary

My doctoral thesis will draw together archive records to analyse the complex behind-the-scenes dialogue between psychiatric hospital directors, public security forces, local authorities, mental health patients and their families during the fascist regime in Italy (1922-1943). Analysing and comparing the correspondence between these institutions and individuals, together with doctors’ and nurses’ notes from four different locations, will shed light on how repression of so-called ‘sexual inversion’ was implemented.

This research will reveal broader social attitudes towards homosexuality and will challenge the stereotype of cohesive Italian families that was so central in fascist propaganda. It will unravel mechanisms of power and authority during the regime and will show to what extent its rhetoric entered everyday life. It will also demonstrate how the law and its representatives accommodated the regime’s need to isolate and punish people who did not conform, and how psychiatry offered its knowledge to this project and became an effective tool of repression.