The madhouse Reale Casa dei Matti is located in Aversa (via Giovanni Linguiti). It was originally build as a convent, and later used as a mental hospital by the government. Since 1519, the only facility to provide treatment for the mentally insane in the Kingdom of Naples was a special section of the Ospedale degli Incurabili in Naples. For many decades it was the only asylum of the kingdom that housed a copious number of patients, presenting an ongoing overcrowding problem and a need for expansion. On March 11, 1813 Gioacchino Murat, Naples viceroy, issued a decree that established the foundation of a facility “designated exclusively to the hospitalization of the mentally insane". This resulted in the founding of the Reale Casa dei Matti of Aversa. Currently, the building (property of the Region Campania) is in terribly rundown condition due to years of being preyed upon by thieves and vandals. Giovanni Maria Linguiti and Biagio Miraglia made huge contributions in the management of the Reale Casa dei Matti.
Linguiti was the first medical director of the asylum and he introduced grammar recitations, the cultivation of the fields (as you can see in the picture), and the manufacture of cloth as pleasing occupations for the mind;
Miraglia was appointed medical director of the asylum in 1860. He founded the first Italian psychiatric periodical: “Giornale medico-statistico del reale morotrofio del Regno delle Due Sicilie per la parte citeriore al Faro”, in which were published clinical observations collected in the asylum. He invented innovative therapeutic methods like music therapy and psychodrama organizing a company of patient-actors and making them play out at the asylum.
In a wing of the building there still is a library which contained many old and interesting books about psychiatry, etc…
There was also a church which was attended until the emanation of the legge Basaglia (1978), an event after which the asylum was closed.
Although the access to the rooms is not possible due to the upper floors being unsafe, it still has pictures made by some patients showed in the library:
…“We pray to die” is written on the lime of the refectory…
- Photos by Margherita Zona ti.liamtoh|ehgram.z#|, courtesy of Nicola Cunto (December 2013)
- Locate the item on this Google Map
- C.Carrino e N. Cunto La memoria dei matti : Gli archivi dei manicomi in Campania tra XIX e XX secolo e nuovi modelli della psichiatria Filema edizioni // Napoli // 2003 // p.p. 402