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Petacchi, G.C. (1993). Ermes Orlandelli (ed.), Asma bronchiale. Un approccio interdisciplinare. IES Mercury, Roma, 1987, no price given.. Rivista Psicoanal., 39(1):263-267.

(1993). Rivista di Psicoanalisi, 39(1):263-267

Ermes Orlandelli (ed.), Asma bronchiale. Un approccio interdisciplinare. IES Mercury, Roma, 1987, no price given.

Review by:
Gian Carlo Petacchi

In the nineteen fifties Vito Patrono was one of the few physicians genuinely interested in medical methodology, and a careful observer of somatic pathology. I remember a case which had raised questions in a hospital ward going far beyond the organic parameters usually considered by our shortsighted medical practitioners. Patrono would recall how, in the pre-antibiotic age, he had often observed practically identical cases that developed in completely different ways. As an example, he cited two young women of the same age, with very similar organic conditions, suffering from the same type of pulmonary t.b.; one of them recovered and the other died. He argued that some unknown factor must have played a part. An acute physician, in his own way, he had noticed that there was more to the cases than traditional medicine understood. Whether we like it or not, this was about as much as we could realistically expect then, when not dealing with strictly organic factors in illness and recovery. I am well aware that there is nothing new in bringing attention to the continuing, astonishing lack of understanding in the medical world, despite a few praiseworthy exceptions, of the patient's emotional life.

In the same period I was also a frequent visitor to an ambitious psychiatric clinic, where I saw a young primary school teacher from the Abruzzo region suffering from depression, whose voice was extremely hoarse. Discussion of the functional nature of this case of dysphonia ranged from archetypal-symbological to phenomenological and existential aspects, scaling the most ethereal peaks. Not a single learned expert in mental pathology noticed the patient's flushed face, glassy stare or perspiration, especially in the afternoon. None of them thought of taking her temperature.


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