Insanity and Social Dangerousness: Philosophical Reflections on Italian Law
AbstractAccording to Italian law 81/2014, social dangerousness derived only from individual personal characteristics, including mental health conditions. As a result, dangerousness is not perceived as related to a specific context, but on the contrary mainly caused by a psychic condition. Although forensic psychiatry and criminology have denied this axiom for a long time now, this ancient and traditional prejudice where a mentally ill person is dangerous as such, seems to have returned formally. Beyond the contingent issues that may have influenced Italian lawmakers in formulating this legislation, there is a question to ask: why does this union between mental illness/social dangerousness reappears in a cyclic and persistent way? Since imputability and social dangerousness are not topics studied exclusively by law and psychiatry, it is possible to express some philosophical considerations regarding the correlation between insanity and deviance and the ancient bond between insanity and evil. In assessing psychiatric social dangerousness, in order to reconcile instances of the rights of individual patients with the need to protect society, the law needs to take into account these hidden and intertwined issues.
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