Skip to Main Content (Press Enter) Toggle side nav
The Man Who Closed the Asylums by John Foot

The Man Who Closed the Asylums

Best Seller
The Man Who Closed the Asylums by John Foot
Hardcover $29.95
Aug 18, 2015 | ISBN 9781781689264

Also available from:

See All Formats (1) +
  • Aug 18, 2015 | ISBN 9781781689264

    Also available from:

  • Sep 15, 2015 | ISBN 9781781689288

    Available from:

*This title is not eligible for purchase to earn points nor for redemption with your code in the Reader Rewards program

Product Details


“Peopled by a cast of extraordinary characters—patients, colleagues, friends and enemies—revolving around the charismatic and now legendary psychiatrist Franco Basaglia, John Foot’s sympathetic account de-mythologises the reform by uncovering little-known precedents, distancing Basaglia from anti-psychiatry and situating his work within Italian radical politics of the late 1960s. Indispensable reading for anyone interested in psychiatric reform.”
—Howard Caygill, author of On Resistance

“An important work … should put to rest the badly-informed, lazy narrative that still prevails to the effect that Franco Basaglia was an idealist—an ‘anti-psychiatrist’—who, at a stroke, disempowered doctors to certify someone as insane with disastrous results.”
—Adrian C. Laing, author of R.D. Laing: A Biography

“The anti-asylum movement in 1960s and ’70s Italy forms one of the most fascinating episodes in western psychiatry. John Foot’s richly documented and revealing study of this movement and its pioneer figure, the charismatic radical psychiatrist Franco Basaglia, adds immeasurably to our understanding of the troubled history of mental health care in modern times.”
—Barbara Taylor, author of The Last Asylum

“A brilliant historical reconstruction of the work and ideas of one of the world’s leading exponents of critical psychiatry.”
—David Forgacs, author of Italy’s Margins

“It is fashionable in some quarters to laugh at the radical left of the 1960s. The Man Who Closed the Asylums feels refreshing in that regard—as a portrait of imperfect people who had the passion and pragmatism to put an end to a brutal and broken system.”
—Sarah Wise, Financial Times

“In Italy, the literature on Basaglia tends towards either idealisation or demonisation—he’s considered either a secular saint or a dangerous radical. John Foot gives a much more rounded, and fair, portrait of a complicated, committed man.”
—Tobias Jones, Guardian

“John Foot stresses throughout his exemplary account [that] myth and reality aren’t easily separated in Basaglia’s story … Foot restores a critical distance that makes it possible to present Basaglia’s achievements as part of a wider story. In Italy, it took more than one man to close the asylums.”
—Mike Jay, London Review of Books

“A scholar steeped in the twists and turns of Italian history of the 20th century … Foot has made wonderful use of [the materials of the Basaglia archive] … exploring them through the lens of the politics and fractured nature of the country itself.”
—Helen Bynum, Times Higher Education

“Brings this diversity, richness and complexity to life in an exemplary fashion, illuminating all its different manifestations and contradictions … A triumph of committed scholarship.”
Times Literary Supplement

“Foot’s impassioned story reminds us that the future is neither immutable nor ordained, and that small groups of people in peripheral places can change.”

“However strong the spirit of 1968, it will not eradicate the institutional impulse from human societies.”
—Peter J. Leithart, First Things

“An excellent book”
—Melissa Reynolds, Frugal Creativity

Get the latest updates from John Foot
And go from well-read to best read with book recs, deals and more in your inbox every week.
And go from well-read to best read with book recs, deals and more in your inbox every week.
By clicking SIGN UP, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Penguin Random House’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.
Something awesome is on its way.
Back to Top