Infermiere in manicomio prima della 180: narrare esperienze tra cura e custodia (1968-78)

Olivia Fiorilli


“Care” and “custody” were the opposite poles which characterized the deve- lopment of nurses’ work developed in psychiatric hospitals. How do women who worked as nurses in Italian psychiatric hospitals, before they were closed by the Law 180, describe their experience? How does one reconcile the view of women as “natural caregivers” with what we now know to have been the reality of asylums as “non-caring” and repressive? This article analyses, from the perspective of gender studies, the memory and self-representation of fifteen women who worked as nurses in the Roman psychiatric hospital of S. Maria della Pietà in the decade preceding the passing of the Law 180 in 1978. This period was characterized by the protest movement against asylums, reflected in Rome’s S. Maria della Pietà, where nurses had an active role in the transition this institution into a hospital. Memories of female nurses can offer an interesting perspective on this process, on their image, and on women’s work in the social construction of “care”.

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