Alda Merini’s memoir: Psychiatric hospitalization, institutional violence and the politicization of illness in 20th century Italy

Zinnari, A. (2021) Alda Merini’s memoir: Psychiatric hospitalization, institutional violence and the politicization of illness in 20th century Italy. Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 22(4), pp. 426-438. (doi: 10.1080/15299732.2021.1925863)

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Abstract

In 1964, the Italian poet Alda Merini was hospitalized in a mental hospital in Milan as the result of a violent fight with her husband. Merini would spend ten years in and out of hospital, while her relationship with her family and with the literary circles in which she moved deteriorated. Merini’s experience in the asylum is narrated in her memoir L’altra verità. Diario di una diversa (1986). Through an analysis of some crucial passages in the memoir, this article seeks to demonstrate that Diario is a work charged with both literary and historical value that deserves more scholarly attention. Merini’s memories shed new light on the situation of psychiatric patients, and especially of women, in Italy before and after Basaglia’s reforms on mental institutions. Demonstrating how the abuse that she suffered in the hospital reflects society’s attitudes toward mental illness, disability, and women, Merini shows that the type of trauma narrative that is produced under institutions of coercive control – such as the mental asylum – will often be one of resistance to oppression.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Zinnari, Dr Alessia
Authors: Zinnari, A.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Italian
Journal Name:Journal of Trauma and Dissociation
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1529-9732
ISSN (Online):1529-9740
Published Online:20 June 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Trauma and Dissociation 22(4):426-438
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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