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Gazzetta Medica Italiana Archivio per le Scienze Mediche 2000 February;159(1):35-9

Copyright © 2000 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: Italian

The figure of children with neuropsychiatric disease in sicilian painted ex-voto from the end of the ninenteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth

Roccella M. 1, Lo Balbo B. 2

1 Università degli Studi - Palermo, Cattedra di Neuropsichiatria Infantile, Dipartimento di Psicologia; 2 Università degli Studi - Palermo, Facoltà di Architettura, Istituto di Disegno Industriale


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Like every other cultural factor, painted ex-voto can be studied from different points of view; they offer very interesting elements to locate those processes operating in the lower classes culture establishment. Among the many represented subjects, illness holds a prominent position. This paper is the result of a study carried out on 387 small votive pictures from Our Lady of Altavilla Milicia (Palermo). Afterwards, among all the ex-voto portraying diseases, the group with neurological and psychiatric subjects was picked out and analysed. Only two of the several ex-voto representing a neuropsychiatric disease show a neurological pathology: a woman suffering from thrombosis and a paralytic adolescent. In any way, the representation of a diabolic possession does not exclude it could concern epilepsy or hysterics. The ex-voto portrays the expression of a local popular culture and it is a valid contribution to go deep into the relationships between man and place, community and environment. So, a small votive picture can be seen both as an everyday history document and as a way of communication used in order to convey stories of dramatic events, social troubles and outsiders.

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