Ethics in Psychiatry: From Antiquity to the Renaissance


  • Mariano Martini Department of Health Sciences, University of Genoa, I
  • Francesco De Stefano Department of Health Sciences, University of Genoa, I
  • Michele Schiavone Prof. Emeritus University of Genoa, I
  • Rosagemma Ciliberti Department of Health Sciences, University of Genoa, I


Ethics in Psychiatry , Historical Evolution , Mental illness


Ethical issues have always played an important role in the historical development of psychiatry. At one time it was thought that mental illness had divine origine. After the first centuries of the new era, the Christian religion also aims to create systems of philosophy and theology, and mental illness is often interpreted with a demonological view which play a key role in the evil deeds of witches and magic in connection with the concept of sin. The Middle Ages did not bring, special medical advances for the alienated. The most important changes came from religion. However, the origin of mental illness was based not only on demonic conceptions but also on clinical medicine and natural behaviors. Mental illness is evaluated in its pathological nature and the doctor becomes the only person responsible for his care and diagnosis. It is no longer regarded as demonic possession and supernatural phenomenon but as a disease.