Mad and murderous: two matricides reported by the Italian press before and after the Basaglia law

21/12/2005

Abstract: 

This study presents the results of a qualitative analysis based on 13 crime news articles from Italian newspapers, to show that the belief that mental disorder predisposes many of those suffering from it to behave violently has endured, though the 180 bill was passed 25 years ago. Although the question has already been addressed by social psychologists and psychiatrists, it has not been discussed in great detail by science communication. However, this considers crime articles in newspapers as very interesting examples of indirect communication on health issues, where common belief prevails. The articles analyzed were about two matricides dating back to 1972 and 2001 respectively. The analysis showed that the belief that people with mental illnesses are recognizable, antisocial, can behave violently and cannot recover, has endured over many years. Nevertheless, statements about people with mental disorders are more accurate and the idea that the risk of violence among released mental patients is predictable, has been set aside.

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