Chapter 44: history of neurology in Italy.Handb Clin Neurol. 2010; 95:719-35.HC
The chapter starts from the Renaissance (although the origins of Italian neurology can be traced back to the Middle Ages), when treatises of nervous system physiopathology still followed Hippocratic and Galenic "humoral" theories. In Italy, as elsewhere in Europe, the concepts of humoral pathology were abandoned in the 18th century, when neurology was influenced by novel trends. Neurology acquired the status of clinical discipline (as "clinic of mental diseases") after national reunification (declared in 1861 but completed much later). At the end of the 19th and first decades of the 20th century, eminent Italian "neuropsychiatrists" (including, among many others, Ugo Cerletti, who introduced electroconvulsive shock therapy in 1938) stimulated novel knowledge and approaches, "centers of excellence" flourished, and "Neurological Institutes" were founded. In the first half of the 20th century, the history of Italian neurology was dominated by World Wars I and II (which stimulated studies on the wounded) and the fascist regime in-between the Wars (when the flow of information was instead very limited). Italy became a republic in 1946, and modern neurology and its distinction from psychiatry were finally promoted. The chapter also provides detailed accounts of scientific societies and journals dedicated to the neurological sciences in Italy.