«Il pensiero è materia». Anatomie dell’anima nei racconti scapigliati
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It has been acknowledged from ancient times that the mind can affect the body. However, although research in the field of human anatomy has investigated the nexus between melancholy and illness since its inception and the Hippocratic principles have pointed to the fact that medical science and philosophy are intertwined, the etiological validity ofthe psychosomatic approach in medical practice is still debated. That’s not the case for the characters dominating the novels and tales emanating from the Scapigliatura movement. In that context, medical diagnoses fully acknowledge the cause-effect relationship between psychological (and emotional) state and illness. The case of Dr Cymbalus, a medical doctor described by Capuana, who engages in a long and eventually unsuccessful search for a surgical procedure that causes emotional numbness believing it could be a long life elixir is particularly salient. The anatomist Carlo Gulz, a cruel character created by Camillo Boito, represents another interesting case. In order to uncover the secrets of Carlotta’s flawless beauty –her constant and full happiness –he ends up killing her in order to examine her body. As reflected in his tales, Gualdo believes so much in the existence of this dichotomy that he doesn’t even deem necessary to create the character of a medical doctor tasked with diagnosing Ida’s condition. Ida is a young woman who to obey her father’s wishes, remains trapped in such a deep melancholy that eventually leads to her death.