The history of Encephalitis Lethargica: an Italian treatment for a still little-known disease. The experience of the Siena psychiatric hospital in the first half of the twentieth century. in a museum and archival research.

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Mariano Martini
Francesco Brigo
Davide Orsini


Encephalitis Lethargica;, History of Neurology;, Bulgarian cure, Antonio D'Ormea, Arturo Nannizzi


Since from the 1920s, the treatments and management of several post-encephalitic patients who survived the acute phase of lethargic encephalitis was often assigned to psychiatric hospitals for the psychic symptoms, signs and illnesses of the disease. Antonio D’Ormea, director of the psychiatric hospital of Siena from 1909 to 1952, tried to cure them or at least to stabilize them also through treatments that were exclusively symptomatic as happened elsewhere, in other treatment medical centers. It was a meticulous pathway of several decades. They were interesting and new experiences where the results achieved were recorded and gradually documented. A series of actions were carried out and were created careful collections with photographs and other documentation about every event related to the treatments. A remarkable archive was created The authors of this manuscript recovered material from the historical archive of the Sienese psychiatric hospital by carrying out a preliminary search among the old but intact medical records. They were therefore able to recover the treatment methods that were tested, including the famous “Bulgarian cure”, a "mostly individual" remedy as Prof. Antonio D'Ormea himself described it.


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