CRIME AND MADNESS AT THE OPPOSITE SHORES OF THE ADRIATIC: MORAL INSANITY IN ITALIAN AND CROATIAN PSYCHIATRIC DISCOURSES
In the 19th century, fervid debates arose in the young psychiatric science about how to deal with and to scientifically categorize human behaviour which was perceived as dangerous to society, and as criminal. There were two concepts that stood out in these transnationally held discussions; namely moral insanity and later on, psychopathy. Following recent approaches in the cultural and social history of psychiatry, we understand moral insanity and psychopathy as social constructs, which are determined by the evolution in psychiatric knowledge, and also by laws, codes and social norms of particular historical timeframes. Our task is to discuss the evolution and adoption of these concepts in two linguistically different, but still historically profoundly entangled regions, namely in Italian and Croatian psychiatric discourses at the turn from the 19th to the 20th century. Our analysis of two of the most important medical and psychiatric journals of the time shows that psychiatric debates on antisocial and criminal behaviour were in numerous ways entangled and shaped by the way the two societies scientifically, legally, and institutionally struggled over the question of how to detect and control the mentally incapacitated criminal offender.
Keywords: moral insanity, psychopathy, Liječnički vjesnik, La rivista sperimentale di freniatria, degeneration, history of psychiatry.