The psychiatric hospital – as it was before the Mezcal

The story goes

La Stampa - Rivolta in ManicomioCollegno, Royal mental asylum, in the “criminally insane” ward, an isolated building, the July 12, 1912, the Bell Tower had just beaten the midnight. That had to be the first sign.
Starting in a dormitory in pavilion 8, slower strokes resounded all over the building; somewhere the same rhythmic sound answered, then a high-pitched whistle, a thunderous banging of doors, a scream …
the uprising was termed by newspapers as impressive, furious, terrible…


The building that now bears the name of Mezcal Squat was built inside the insane asylum of  “Certosa Reale di Collegno” in 1910. An isolated Pavilion surrounded by a wall designed for the care of the criminally insane, later home for TB patients that needed isolation.

In 1978 the law 180 (Legge Basaglia) was  approved,  with the mean of emptying and closing Psychiatric Hospital.
The number of patient decrease from 4633 in 1968 to 1710 in 1979. The last 4 departments were closed in 1993, and 100 people still hospitalized are sent to therapeutic communities. The asylum’s story ends and begins that of  abandonment.

The Pavilion of the criminally insane has hosted in nearly twenty years an abusive dump, as well as serving as a shelter for people without ability or rights,  as homeless people or immigrants.
On 4 August 2006 is occupied and re-opened. The objectives of the occupants were to form an open space for all kinds of activity, from politics to entertainment, revolutionizing their daily lives through the practice of self-management and self-construction. But the conditions the building had been left were really bad.

The renovation of the ground floor has requested a three-year job and two more  to the foreground. The first few months of occupation were dedicated to waste and rubble disposal, and to the redevelopment of the garden which was flooded with rubbish, weeds …and pests.

So the group has transformed the institutional structure, building  out of nowhere  free creative environments. This  is the result of the work of many people, not only the occupants, who have  participated, and continues to  participate at this project. To accomplish this work anyone has never been asked for money and no funding were received. The materials were donated or recovered, along with people sympathetic to the project and is operated in the same way.

This is the first evidence that with solidarity and cooperation we can carry out a different life. Without leaders or controlling institutions, without parties or flags to convince us, we created and continue to create a free space where people can meet, discuss, create, where ideas can flow freely and become something real.


2007.03.01 — OPG - 2 giorni antipsichiatrica From the presentation of “Psychiatry and the surroundings – from care to social control”
After a decade of neglect was reopened and freed the criminal lunatic asylum of Collegno. There is much to tell: bars, beds of restraint, electroshock therapy, hydrotherapy and other treatments for the “mental health”.

But also much to ask: what has happened to the crazies? What has changed with the law 180? Psychiatry care or control? If cares, what cares? If controls, who controls?

Increasingly psychiatry, main response to expressions such as “diversity”, “misery” and “social deviance”, invades our lives.


2006.12.15 — Psichiatria e DintorniDon’t you sleep? Do not eat? Are you sad? You don’t want to work? Your pusher has moved? Your son is “too lively”? There is a psychotropic drug for you! Contact with confidence to your family doctor.  If instead you want to be sad, stop going to work and sleep all day, you may find that a family member, a neighbor or a friend decide that your insane behaviour require psychiatric intervention.
“Repartini”, community, family homes, prisons and psychiatric clinics: BUT the ASYLUMS HAD NOT BEEN closed?
Mezcal Squat, December 2006