In this article, we are going to retrace the history of the Salento’s Mental Hospital, one of the largest psychiatric facilities in Southern Italy and we whilst addressing the use of somatic therapies in this institution. The Provincial Mental Hospital of Terra d’Otranto, established since 1897, started operation in1901, under the direction of Dr. Giovanni Libertini. In 1931, after the advent of fascism, with the split of the Lecce Province into three provinces (Lecce, Brindisi and Taranto), The Mental Hospital turned into a hospital consortium, called The Interprovincial Psychiatric Hospital of Salento (OPIS) and subsequently, from 1985 to 1998, The Psychiatric Hospital “Giovanni Libertini”. At The Interprovincial Psychiatric Hospital of Salento (O.P.I.S.) somatic therapies, and in particular Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), were widely used. Afterwards, in the 1950s, with the advent of psychotropic drugs (neuroleptics, antidepressants, MAO inhibitors tricyclics, benzodiazepines), the success of somatic therapies and in particular of ECT decreased significantly. The recent renewed interest in somatic therapies - again considered in the most advanced scientific studies and used in a large number of renowned hospitals and universities - is linked to the considerable deepening of the biological knowledge of such therapies and to drug resistance of many psychiatric illnesses. Therefore, we considered it opportune to historically analyze the use of somatic therapies in one of the most important psychiatric institutions of Southern Italy.
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