Vincenzo Chiarugi


Vincenzo Chiarugi was an Italian physician who introduced humanitarian reforms to the hospital care of people with mental disorders. His was a key contributor in movement called moral treatment that also involved Phillip Pinel (1745-1826) in France, William Tuke (1732-1822) in England, and Benjamin Rush (1745-1813) in the US.

From 1785 to 1788, Chiarugi served as director of the Santa Dorotea hospital in Florence. In that capacity he outlawed chains as a means of restraint for psychiatric patients. In 1788, Chiarugi moved to a new position as director of the new Bonifacio Hospital, a building he had helped plan. The hospital served the mentally ill as well as invalids (who were typically poor, homeless and unemployed) and patients with skin conditions. In that capacity Chiarugi instituted new humanitarian regulations.

In his words

The patient is to be treated with respect; not put to work (with the exception that those accustomed to such work may be expected to help in cleaning); no physical pain to be inflicted under any circumstance—and the director shall be vigilantly observant of this; the application of restraints, often necessary in the treatment of mania, must be applied in accord with humanitarian and hygienic practices; patients are to have access to the grounds to walk, play, or exercise; they are to be bathed regularly, even if they must be tied down while this is being done; they will be fed in their closed rooms while observed through a small grated window; visiting by friends or family is extremely unwise—when it occurs, it must be closely supervised" (From Regolamento 294–376).

Writing of Vincenzo Chiarugi

Chiarugi, V. (1987). On insanity and its classification, edited and translated by Mora C. Cannon, Mass, Warson Publishing International.

Writings about Vincenzo Chiarugi

Mora, G. (1959). Vincenzo Chiarugi (1759-1820) and his psychiatric reform in Florence in the late 18th century (on the occasion of the bi-centenary of his birth). Journal of the History Medicine. Oct. 14:424-33.

Gerard, D.L. (1998). Chiarugi and Pinel considered: Soul's brain/person's mind. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 33, 4, 381 – 403.