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The Influence of National Unification on the Interpretation of Suicide Statistics in Nineteenth-Century Germany and Italy

Maria Teresa Brancaccio et David Lederer

Résumés

Les contributions de Wagner et de Morselli sont souvent considérées en rapport au débat transnational sur le suicide ou sur les méthodes statistiques du xixe siècle, ou encore par l’influence qu’elles ont exercée sur Le Suicide d’Émile Durkheim (1897). Notre objectif ici est de considérer l’apport de Wagner et de Morselli dans le contexte du processus d’unification nationale qui a eu lieu en Allemagne et en Italie.

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Texte intégral

  • 1 Enrico Morselli, Suicide, New York, D. Appelton and Co., 1882, p. 16.
  • 2 Enrico Morselli, Il suicidio: saggio di statistica morale comparata, Milan, Fratelli Dumolard, 1879 (...)
  • 3 Enrico Morselli, Suicide, op. cit., p. 15.

1In the second half of the nineteenth century, the German economist Adolf Wagner (1835-1917) and the Italian psychiatrist Enrico Morselli (1852-1929) made significant contributions to suicidology (as part of the broader field of moral statistics) with two voluminous and sophisticated statistical studies. In his The Laws of Regularity (1864), Wagner supported the assertion of the Belgian statistical thinker Adolphe Quetelet that suicide rates followed a statistical law through the presentation and discussion of a vast amount of statistical data on suicide in Europe. Morselli too adhered to Quetelet’s social determinism. Statistical analysis, he wrote, was “a formidable weapon to deny the reality of independent human actions and to declare that the same laws exist in the moral as in the physical world”1. Morselli’s study, Suicide: An Essay in Comparative Moral Statistics (1879), drew on the work of Wagner and other moral statisticians, including a wealth of official statistical information2. Morselli’s study seemed to scientifically confirm a widespread suspicion that, throughout the nineteenth century, suicide increased “in almost all the civilized countries of Europe and of the new world”3.

  • 4 See, for instance, Howard Kushner, “Suicide, Gender and the Fear of Modernity in Nineteenth-Century (...)

2It may seem curious that two of the most significant contributions to suicidology before Durkheim appeared in the two major regions of Western Europe still striving to achieve national unity in the nineteenth century. Wagner’s and Morselli’s contributions, whenever they are recognized, are generally considered in relation to a transnational debate on suicide and nineteenth century statistical methods, as well as their influence on Emile Durkheim’s Suicide (1897)4. Here, our aim is to foreground Wagner’s and Morselli’s scientific works on moral statistics and suicide in specific relation to the process of national unification underway in both Germany and Italy at that time.

  • 5 Two of Oettingen’s brothers held chairs at the university as well.
  • 6 Die Moralstatistik. Inductiver Nachweis der Gesetzmäßigkeit sittlicher Lebensbewegung im Organismus (...)

3The first comprehensive history of moral statistics was written by a close colleague of Wagner: Alexander von Oettingen (1827-1905) was professor of evangelical theology at the Estonian University of Dorpart (Tartu). The primary language of instruction there was German, as many professors were either Baltic Germans from distinguished local families (like Oettingen) or émigrés (like Wagner) from Germany5. Oettingen’s history of moral statistics appeared as a section in his 1868-study, Moral Statistics: Inductive Proof of the Regularity of the Moral Life-Rhythms in the Organism of Humanity, volume I, Moral statistics and Christian Moral Teachings: Attempt at a Social Ethics on an Empirical Basis6. It presented moral statistics as irrefutable proof of human social evolution by reconciling evangelical teachings with Malthusian and Darwinian biology.

  • 7 Alexander von Oettingen, Moralstatistik, op. cit., p. 99.
  • 8 In their eulogistic A Translation of André-Michel Guerry’s Essay on the Moral Statistics of France (...)
  • 9 Lars Behrisch, “Vermessen, Zählen, Berechnen des Raumes im 18. Jahrhundert”, in Lars Behrisch (ed.) (...)
  • 10 Frederick Stephen Crum, The Statistical Work of Süssmilch, Boston, 1901, p. 6ff, 21.
  • 11 Ian Hacking, The Taming of Chance, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1990, p. 21f.
  • 12 Ibid., p. 24; Mary Poovey, A History of the Modern Fact: Problems of Knowledge in the Sciences of W (...)

4According to Oettingen, Johann Peter Süssmilch (1707-1787) founded moral statistics, an accolade later echoed by Durkheim7. Whether Süssmilch should be awarded “founding-father” status for inventing moral statistics remains controversial8. He associated Christian morality with population growth and the economic health of the nation. Süssmilch was also an evangelical theologian and inducted into the Prussian Academy of Sciences for his work in statistical demographics. His Divine Order in the Circumstances of Human Sex, Birth, Death and Reproduction (Berlin, 1741) argued for the advantages of a Christian moral economy to increase population in the service of the Prussian state. Süssmilch mixed mercantilist demographic theory and evangelical theology9. State power and prosperity ultimately depended on population and its rate of increase, dictated by the biblical imperative: “Be fruitful and multiply”10. In reference to Süssmilch, the British historian of statistics Ian Hacking employs Foucault’s concept of “biopolitics” to refer to this apparent confluence of interests between the bodies of subjects and the social body of the state11. Indeed, the term “Statistik” was coined by the Göttingen scholar Gottfried Achenwall in 1749 to describe “remarkable facts about the state”12.

5The main concerns of Süssmilch’s Divine Order were threefold: 1. The natural inclination for the human race to increase; 2. the role of marriage and fecundity, and 3. the positive balance of birth over mortality under normal circumstances. Through an examination of parish registers of births and deaths, he discovered that population increase remained generally constant over time and attributed this to God’s Divine Order. Pastor Süssmilch considered how immoral behavior (i.e. sin) impacted adversely upon growth as a manifestation of celestial displeasure as a natural law. Apart from war and problems of fecundity encountered through divorce and remarriage at a late age, he took up the theme of polygamy.

  • 13 Johann Peter Süssmilch, Die göttliche Ordnung in den Veränderungen des menschlichen Geschlechts, au (...)
  • 14 Alain Desrosières, The Politics of Large Numbers. A History of Statistical Reasoning, Cambridge, Ma (...)
  • 15 Johann Peter Süssmilch, Die göttliche Ordnung, op. cit., vol. II, p. 434f.

6The English haberdasher turned demographer, John Graunt, had previously discussed the subject in his Observations upon the Bills of Mortality (1662). Süssmilch consciously followed Graunt’s model for most of his study, referring to him as the “Columbus” of demographic statistics13. Like Graunt, Süssmilch attacked polygamy in Ottoman society as detrimental to increase because of its reliance on eunuchs, but further went on to unfavorably compare eunuchs to Catholic priests. He roundly condemned the Catholic doctrine of celibacy as deterrent to natural increase, favoring the Protestant policy of a married clergy. Süssmilch confirmed John Arbuthnot’s claim from 1710 that rate of birth for boys was only slightly higher than for girls, a fact ordained by Divine Providence to correct later male losses at sea and in war14. Given the nearly equal numbers of men and women in the world, marriage (also identified by Oettingen as the only legitimate method of population increase) became a sum-zero game; for one man to take more than one wife must necessarily deprive another. Were sex ratios imbalanced, were there say twice as many women as men in the world or vice-versa, then polygamy or even celibacy would not be a sin, indeed it might even be a Christian duty15. However, in reality, this was not the situation prescribed by the Divine Order.

  • 16 Ursula Baumann, Vom Recht auf den eigenen Tod. Die Geschichte des Suizids vom 18. bis 20. Jahrhunde (...)
  • 17 Ibid.

7127 years later, on the eve of the German Kulturkampf, which pitted Protestants against Catholics in the German national question over a greater versus a smaller version of unification, Oettingen offered up Süssmilch as the harbinger of moral statistics. In an age when Prussia was seen by many as the legitimate heir to German nationalist aspirations, they agreed with romanticist authors like Goethe and Schiller that the Saxon theologian, Martin Luther, was a national hero. Luther fought papal and, by extension, Austrian Catholic interference in internal German affairs at a time when “Germany” was little more than a cultural and linguistic notion. Luther translated the Bible from Latin into the German vernacular. In the evangelical master-narrative of German national history, this Borussian school of history favored the small German solution to unification excluding Catholic Austria and eulogizing Martin Luther as the legitimate founding-father of any future German nation. Here, Oettingen’s moral claim’s for Süssmilch as the Urvater of moral statistics fit brilliantly. As Ursula Baumann points out, moral statistics tended to focus on behavioral types generally recognized as immoral16. The values measured remained steeped in Christian moral casuistry and the effects measured “silently presumed their negative evaluation”17.

  • 18 On other highly influential aspects of Wagner’s political economics, from American fiscal policy to (...)

8Oettingen’s colleague at Tartu, Adolf Heinrich Gotthilf Wagner (1835-1917), was a leading compiler of suicide statistics in nineteenth-century Europe. Wagner took up earlier theories of Guerry and Quetelet regarding the regularity of events in moral statistics and added his own theory of increase. Wagner saw increase everywhere in the process of modernization and later established a law of increasing state bureaucracy under the Bismarck administration, still known today as Wagner’s Law18.

  • 19 Biographies, both in German and English translation, are available in Heinrich Rubner, Adolf Wagner (...)
  • 20 Ibid., p. 436. Years after his death, Wagner became a championed hero of the Nazi movement; see Eva (...)

9Born the son of an Erlangen professor of physiology, Wagner received a doctorate in economics from Göttingen in 185719. A contentious figure, his choleric temperament involved him in running scholarly feuds, initially preventing him from obtaining a permanent academic position in any German state. As a result, he took a chair at the University of Dorpat in 1865, where he became acquainted with Oettingen. Wagner associated closely with Bismarck’s strategy for German unification under Prussian leadership. Called back to Germany in 1870, he became chair of economics in Berlin and played a central role in establishing state social welfare under Bismarck promoting professorial socialism (Kathedersozialismus). A cursory analysis of his correspondence highlights his acerbic resolve to defeat opponents and detractors, resulting in bitter conflicts even with his closest colleagues Gustav von Schmoller and Lujo Brentanto, as well as a challenge to a duel with a member of the Reichstag, Freiherr von Stumm. Wagner was politically active throughout his academic career, campaigning for national unification and state-sponsored socialism, as a charter member of both the anti-semitic Christian National Socialist Party and the Evangelical Social Congress; “W. then became one of the outstanding members of contemporary Protestantism”20.

  • 21 Adolf Wagner, Die Gesetzmässigkeit in den scheinbar willkührlichen menschlichen Handlungen vom Stan (...)

10Wagner gained a reputation as a master of statistics with the publication of his monumental The Laws of Regularity in Apparently Arbitrary Human Behavior from the Viewpoint of Statistics21. Consciously located in the tradition of Adolphe Quetelet, Wagner set out to prove that, from a statistical point of view, human behavior was essentially repetitive and certain behaviors increased with modernization. Part one of The Laws of the Regularity considers the theoretical ramifications and underlying methodology of the work, whereas sections commenting upon specific types of behavior (marriage, suicide, etc.) are relatively brief. However, part two – by far the most extensive portion – is comprised in almost two-thirds by the presentation of evidence on suicide statistics. Thus, it is hardly incorrect to suggest that suicide formed the main substance of Wagner’s work on statistics.

11Perhaps the most enduring aspect of his suicide research remains his revelation about differential rates of suicide between religious confessions, particularly Catholics and Protestants. While cautious about some of his results, on one point, Wagner was unequivocal:

  • 22 Adolf Wagner, Die Gesetzmässigkeit, op. cit., p. 188; author’s translation.

The result of this examination is hereby the following: Suicide in Europe is most frequent among Protestants, perhaps even somewhat more frequent among the Reformed than evangelicals; among Catholics it is very much rarer, perhaps among Greek Christians even more rare; among Jews suicide is usually rarer still than among Catholics and perhaps only somewhat equally frequent or less frequent than among Greeks22.

  • 23 Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge, Religion, Deviance and Social Control, New York, Routledg (...)
  • 24 Adolf Wagner, Die Gesetzmässigkeit, op. cit., p. 180.
  • 25 Ibid., p. 189.

12Wagner questioned numerous factors. He was most concerned to ensure that his comparisons between religious confessions took other contexts into consideration and tried to establish a level playing field by matching other external factors23. These included: nationality, ethnic group, climate, culture, education, economy and quality of life24. However, Protestants always seem to kill themselves more often than Catholics. For Wagner, lower rates were not directly attributable to religious doctrine, even if he did admit to the powerful consolation available to Catholics through the sacrament of penance. Instead, he agreed with French mad-doctor Lisle on suicide rates amongst peoples who exhibit a greater degree of internalization of beliefs. Wagner attributed the sober and rational teachings of Protestantism, as well as a higher level of national education (Volksbildung) to a more progressive and secular outlook and higher rates of suicide25. Among peoples with a higher level of outward signs of ritualized religiosity, like Catholics, beliefs acted as a break against suicidal behavior.

  • 26 See Adolf Wagner’s review of Morselli’s study on suicide in Zeitschrift für die gesammte Staatswiss (...)
  • 27 Ibid.
  • 28 Kenneth Barkin, “Adolf Wagner and German Industrial Development”, The Journal of Modern History, 19 (...)
  • 29 Unpublished speech, Warum muss sich der Geistliche um die Bodenreform kuemmern? (1910). The speec (...)

13Although Wagner couched his explanation in polite rhetoric, his condescension towards other confessions is clear. Protestantism – particularly evangelical and reformed Protestantism as practiced in states like Prussia – was clearly more progressive than Catholicism. To prove it, he proffered hard statistical data. Naturally, this was music to the ears of German nationalists who favored a small German solution to exclude the Hapsburgs of Catholic Austria. The actual implications of his data, he sufficed –admittedly bound to attract the attention of doctors, psychiatrists, philosophers, theologians, persons interested in ethics and, last-but-not-least, statesmen – was entirely up to the observer. Years later, in a book review, Wagner expressed visible pleasure that Enrico Morselli respectfully took up many of his themes in his own work on suicide26. He lauded the work of his Dorpat colleague Oettingen for convincing him of his exaggerated reliance on a mechanistic view of this aspect of his earlier work27. Throughout his career, he attacked what he saw as low morals prevailing among populations in industrialized cities, especially in England and among the Jews, where base materialism aroused envy and greed28. He also supported agrarian land reform and, in an address of 1910, he publicly exhorted Protestant pastors to support it as well29.

  • 30 These comments appear in a later edition of Moralstatistik (Erlangen, 1888), p. 24, cited by Hugh P (...)

14In his introduction to his Moral Statistics, Oettingen heaped praise on Wagner for providing him with a scientific model for his theological arguments. The former student had even outdone the master, Oettingen’s final statistics provided the basis for much of Morselli’s – and Durkheim’s – later work. Oettingen also couldn’t help but recognize that the first self-conscious practitioners of moral statistics – Quetelet and Guerry – were products of French national aspirations and, as such, exemplary representatives of the unifying potential of national moral statistics30.

  • 31 Alexander von Oettingen, Über die Akuten und Chronischen Selbstmord, Dorpat/Tellin, E. F. Karow’s U (...)
  • 32 Ibid., p. 4.
  • 33 Ibid., p. 28.
  • 34 Ibid., p. 31.

15In a later work, On Acute and Chronic Suicide31, Oettingen tackled the implications of Wagner’s work on religion and suicide more directly. He discovered the politically charged potential of his suicide research after a speaking tour and decided to commit himself to a short publication on the subject. Oettingen’s On Acute and Chronic Suicide was a major contribution to suicidology and modern statistical sociology. As the title suggests, he recognized that while there were apparently accidental (acute) causes, the regularity of statistics demonstrated beyond doubt that suicide followed long-term patterns fluctuating little over time, excepting a tendency toward increase. Oettingen blamed this on the increasing strains of civilization on mental health. Even as people enjoyed the ever-improving progress of material comforts, they were liable to suffer from ennui, becoming world weary through consumption (Lebensgenuss). Oettingen too recognized higher rates among Protestants than Catholics, but the theologian insisted this was not due to any inherent deficiency in Lutheran dogma, which offered believers adequate tools of consolation, if they only knew where to find them32. The problem was that many modern Protestants, locked in their pursuit of worldly matters, no longer bothered to look to their spiritual side. He likened suicide among modern Protestants to an infectious disease, with the evangelical religion representing the proper anti-septic, like some carbolic acid33. As for the difficulties of being Protestant, Oettingen couldn’t deny that it demanded more sacrifices than those facing Catholics, “with their priestly life-insurance tendencies” or the Greek “orientalists”34. However, it was not only their superstitious religiosity, but also their impure culture, that differentiated them from Protestants:

  • 35 Ibid., author’s translation.

Therefore it is understandable that the German, with his high culture and deep inner affective life, with his tendency to self-reflection and self-critique, carries with him a greater danger of suicide than the easy-living, sanguine Roman or the even less developed, less-civilized Slav, who only tends toward suicide, when licked by half-culture or if infected with nihilism35.

16This provided music to the ears of German nationalists, not only during the Kulturkampf Germany, but also to German émigrés and ultra-nationalist Baltic Germans living in Dorpat under the Czar among the Slavs. Ultimately, it proved a slippery slope from Wagner’s scientific conclusions to the unfettered and pseudo-scientific cultural narcissism of Oettingen’s Acute and Chronic Suicide.

  • 36 Ernst Troeltsch, Die Bedeutung des Protestantismus für die Entstehung der modernen Welt, Munich/Ber (...)

17Now, armed with scientific certainty that Protestants were more suicidal than Catholics and that suicide rates increased with a given society’s level of modernity, subsequent sociologists (many of them German Lutherans) went on to establish what came to be known as The Modernity Thesis. Max Weber, Werner Sombart, Ferdinand Tönnies and Ernst Troeltsch numbered among its most notable advocates. Accordingly, modernity evolved out of the asceticism of the Protestant work ethic, manifest in a Geist or Spirit of Capitalism, the title of Weber’s influential 1905 work. In 1911, the Lutheran theologian Ernst Troeltsch, stepped in for Weber (who was suffering from severe depression at the time) and delivered a manifesto in a special issue of the Historische Zeitschrift entitled, The Meaning of Protestantism for the Rise of the Modern World36. The first sentence paid tribute to Weber’s notion of the Protestant Spirit.

18Even more emphatically than Weber or Troeltsch, Werner Sombart harped upon the relationship of religion to modern Capitalism in The Bourgeoisie of 1913. He too opened his work in praise of Weber. In all three cases, Hegelian nationalism is openly flaunted in their historicist conceptualization of the Zeitgeist. We should recall this against the backdrop of German National unification, only realized several decades prior in 1871 in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War. Historicism played a major legitimizing role in the master-narrative of German unification as the story of Protestantism and Martin Luther as a German national hero. The nationalist master-narrative on the relationship of modernity to Protestantism influenced sociology and history for decades. The apparent discovery of differential rates of suicide between Protestants and Catholics would be adopted by Durkheim with such certainty in Le Suicide that scholars generally refer to it (whether in agreement or disagreement) as “Sociology’s One Law”. By embedding the behavioral variation of suicide rates in science, it now became possible for scholars to objectify cultural differences between Catholics and Protestants as social facts.

19There can be little doubt that the work of Wagner and Oettingen played a seminal role in the development of the modernity thesis and influenced an entire generation of highly influential thinkers. Durkheim certainly incorporated much of their statistical evidence into his own work. In the case of German sociologists, Wagner’s dry quantitative proofs combined with his Dorpat colleague’s doctrinaire interpretation of the religious Zeitgeist to inform a Protestant National master narrative of German history. While their influence on Weber was indirect, their links to his contemporary correspondents, Sombart, Tönnies and Troeltsch, are far clearer.

  • 37 Joachim Kirchner, “Adolf Wagners Nachlaß in der Preusischen Staatsbibliothek”, op. cit.; Ferdinand (...)
  • 38 Joachim Kirchner, “Adolf Wagners Nachlaß in der Preusischen Staatsbibliothek”, op. cit.

20Wagner served as Sombart’s mentor, guiding his PhD at the Friedrich Wilhelms University (today, the Humboldt University). Eventually, Sombart succeeded his mentor to the chair of National Economy in Berlin. Perhaps it was Wagner’s scholarly sobriety which led Sombart to doff his cap to the contribution of the Jews to modern capitalism in a work criticized by opponents simultaneously as Judeophile and anti-semitic. Sombart’s service to the German state throughout his life was not without controversy, though the exact nature of his relationship to the National Socialist dictatorship was ambivalent. We know very little of Wagner’s relationship with Tönnies, excepting that fourteen pieces of correspondence are registered in Kirchner’s inventory of Wagner’s personal papers, as well as a eulogy to Wagner published by Tönnies after his death in 191737. Wagner also corresponded with Troeltsch on at least five occasions38.

  • 39 Ernst Troeltsch, Kritische Gesamtausgabe: Band 2: Rezensionen und Kritiken (1894-1900), Berlin/New (...)

21The ideological relationship of Troeltsch to Oettingen was even closer. Both figured as the leading German-speaking Lutheran theologians of their age. In 1897, when invited to review Oettingen’s voluminous work on evangelical dogma for the Göttingenschen gelehrten Anzeigen, Troeltsch reportedly accepted without hesitation. He opened his review by lauding Oettingen as an “honorable Veteran of Baltic Lutheranism” and throughout Troeltsch praised him for his appreciation of modernity in his theological outlook39. In this context, the “One Law of Sociology” provided German Protestants with an internationally recognized – if somewhat perverse – badge of modernity.

  • 40 Enrico Morselli, Suicide, op. cit., Preface, p. vi.
  • 41 Hacking argues that Wagner took distance from his uncompromising statistical determinism after expe (...)
  • 42 Enrico Morselli, Suicide, op. cit., p. VI.
  • 43 Ibid. Theodore Porter argues that Morselli was fascinated by the statistical regularities and incli (...)

22Oettingen’s and, even more, Wagner’s statistical work on suicide had a strong influence on Enrico Morselli’s voluminous Suicide: An Essay on Comparative Moral Statistics (1879). In the Preface of his book, Morselli acknowledged that critics might find that his book resembled “too nearly” Wagner’s Laws of Regularity (1864), but argued that the similarity was mainly due to the fact that both studies relied on same statistical sources and methodology and aimed at the “objective demonstration of modern determinism”40. He briefly mentioned that, in the meanwhile, Wagner had modified his opinion with regard to determinism41, but dismissed his shift by pointing out that Wagner’s engagement in economics had probably driven him away from the positivist method of inquiry42. As far as he was concerned, Morselli wrote, years spent observing and treating mental disease had convinced him even more of “the universality and regularity of the laws which influence human actions”43.

23Morselli’s fervent and repeated defense of determinism in the Preface of his book betrayed the growing tensions between positivist psychiatrists and criminologists on the one side and the the followers of the “classical” school of legal thought on the other.

  • 44 In his short autobiography written years later at the request of Onorato Roux, Morselli mentioned t (...)
  • 45 Livi argued that the neologism ‘phreniatry’ conveyed better than other terms the organicistic orien (...)
  • 46 Ibid., p. 7.
  • 47 Cesare Lombroso was a more complex and interesting figure than it is often suggested. A liberal at (...)
  • 48 As Pick points out, Lombroso’s evolutionary concept was not Darwinian as such, but rather a conflat (...)
  • 49 Ibid.

24As a medical student in Modena, between the late 1860s and the mid-1870s, Morselli became acquainted with positivism, evolutionism, and German organicism, the new theoretical approaches that modernized medical training after the country unification. The Darwinian biologist Giovanni Canestrini (who introduced Darwin’s work in Italy) and the anatomist and ethnologist, Paolo Gaddi, were among Morselli’s university teachers44. After his graduation in medicine, he entered the specialization in psychiatry that had just been established by the reformist psychiatrist Carlo Livi in the Reggio Emilia asylum. One of the first trainees of the “Reggio psychiatric school”, Morselli enthusiastically embraced the positivist and experimental orientation of the “new” Italian psychiatry (the Italian psychiatric society was founded in the early 1870s) as well as the reformist ambitions of psychiatrists such as Livi and Cesare Lombroso who campaigned for the adoption of a scientific approach to deal with social problems that plagued post-unification Italian society. In 1875, Morselli co-founded with Livi the Rivista Sperimentale di Freniatria e Medicina Legale in relazione con l’Antropologia e le Scienze Giuridiche e Sociali (Journal of Experimental Phreniatry and Legal Medicine in relation to Anthropology and Juridical and Social Sciences). The journal’s title stressed the new experimental and organicist orientation of post-unitary Italian psychiatry and its ambition to extend its influence in the legal and social domains45. In the debut issue of the journal, Livi vehemently attacked the classical penal theory (based on the principles exposed by Cesare Beccaria in his Crime and Punishment, 1764), for its exclusive focus on crime and punishment and argued that the penal law’s disregard for the physical and moral condition of the offender betrayed a lack of civilization46. In the same years, Lombroso spelled out a direct relationship between crime and insanity. After conducting anthropometric research on three thousand Italian soldiers as part of an investigation into the ethnic diversity of Italians, Lombroso developed an evolutionist interpretation of criminality and deviance based on phrenology in an attempt to identify atavisms, i.e. the resurfacing of primitive physical and moral characteristics in the criminal, the deviant and the insane47. From his perspective, offenders, deviants and the mentally ill manifested natural throwbacks in the evolutionary chain, biologically determined to a life of crime and disruptive behavior48. Lombroso’s theory had thus profound implications for the understanding of criminality and “disorderly” conduct and the concepts of free will and legal responsibility. According to his approach, a medical-psychiatric examination of the offender was an essential step to establish his or her physical and mental conditions, level of social dangerousness, and type and duration of restrictive measures to be applied. As Daniel Pick aptly puts it, Lombroso distinguished himself for quickly grasping “the implications of physical anthropology and evolution for contemporary Italian society” and translating his ideas into projects for practical reforms49. His Italian positivist school of criminal anthropology (the movement that he established) found many followers among positivist physicians and lawyers. In this context, it is not surprising that the first statistical study on suicide by Morselli focused on suicide among criminals.

  • 50 Published as a supplement to the Rivista Sperimentale di Freniatria in 1877, Morselli’s statistical (...)
  • 51 In his work, Morselli referred to the studies by the psychiatrist Arrigo Tamassia (1848-1917), a st (...)
  • 52 As Morselli put it, “it is anthropologically demonstrated that suicide is brought about by civiliza (...)
  • 53 See Prosper Despine, Psychologie naturelle: Étude sur les facultés intellectuelles et morales, Pari (...)
  • 54 Enrico Morselli, Contributo, op. cit., p. 3.
  • 55 Ibid., 10.

25In his “Contribution to the psychology of the criminal man: Statistical-anthropological notes on suicide among criminals” (1875), Morselli stated that in Italy suicide rates among prison inmates were significantly higher than in the general population50. Given the widespread assumption that insanity was the main cause of suicide, Morselli’s statistical study seemed to provide scientific support to Lombroso’s theory of the link between insanity and criminality (high suicide rates among prison inmates were consistent with high rates of insanity among criminals)51. However, the high number of suicides among prison inmates appeared at odds with the widely accepted belief that the level of suicide in a population was linked to the level of education and civilization52. To explain this exception, Morselli combined Lombroso’s atavistic theory with the French psychiatrist Prosper Despine’s idea that suicide was both a sign of advanced civilization and an anomalous manifestation of “inferior races” who killed themselves (and others) out of prejudice, futility and a ferocious character53. Criminals, Morselli argued, were a separate class of individuals whose primitive moral characteristics were similar to those of savage populations54. However, he pointed out that, in addition to biology, the environment also had an influence on the phenomenon of suicide among criminals. For if constitutional predispositions such as insanity and atavism could account for the number of suicides in the prison population, they could not account for the fact that prisons with a more restrictive regime had higher rates of suicide among their inmates than other penitentiary institutions55. Morselli supported his observations with a comparative analysis of penitentiary statistics in other European countries in which he showed that the most severe penitentiary regimes, especially solitary confinement, contributed significantly to higher rates of suicide and mental disorder in the prison population.

  • 56 See Elisa Bianco, “Suicidi di Primo Ottocento: Riflessioni sulla liceità della morte volontaria nel (...)
  • 57 In 1861, an article by the psychiatrist Andrea Verga in the psychiatric appendix of the Gazzetta Me (...)

26Morselli’s first incursion in the field of suicidology was clearly motivated more by his ambition to intervene in the debate on the reform of the Italian penal system than by interest on the phenomenon of suicide per se. Although the European debate on the alleged augmentation of the incidence of suicide in European countries had echoed in Italian states since the 1830s56, in the post-unification period, suicide did not immediately figure as a main public concern57.

  • 58 Silvana Patriarca, Numbers and Nationhood. Writing Statistics in Nineteenth-Century Italy, Cambridg (...)

27With the proclamation of the Italian kingdom in 1861, the patriotic optimism which had characterized the late 1850s gave way to deep concern about the cultural, political, and economic divisions of the country. National statistics not only confirmed these anxieties, but aggravated them. Comparative statistics revealed a divided nation, with rates of illiteracy and violent crime considerably higher than in most “civilized” Western European countries. Furthermore, the division in regions of the nation’s body devised by Italian statisticians for the sake of administrative efficiency unwittingly contributed to the cultural and economic fragmentation of the country. The “scientifically” devised Italian regions, in fact, roughly corresponded to the pre-unitary Italian states. Regional statistics thus “introduced and consolidated a partition of Italy destined to become very entrenched in the reading of Italy, both among ordinary people and in the scientific community”58.

  • 59 See Serafino Bonomi, Del suicidio in Italia: Studi di statistica medica, Milan, Presso la Societa p (...)
  • 60 Reale Istituto Lombardo di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Rendiconti, Séance August 1, 1878, p. 630. See (...)
  • 61 See, for instance, the review by G. J. Romanes, Nature, 1881, 25, p. 193-196.
  • 62 Ian Hacking, The Taming of Chance, op. cit., p. 128.
  • 63 Enrico Morselli, “Introduction: La statistica dei fatti morali e specialmente del suicidio, in Il (...)
  • 64 Ibid., p. 31-40.

28In his study of the first series of national suicide statistics, for instance, the psychiatrist Serafino Bonomi interpreted them according to the “regional approach” (that-stressed ethnographic, cultural, and economic divisions in the nation’s body) and to the assumptions about suicide, literacy and civilization that framed the late-nineteenth century European debate on suicide. Predictably, suicide rates appeared to be highest in the northern regions (the more economically developed part of the country with the highest literacy rates in the population), to decrease slightly in the central regions, and to drop significantly in the southern regions where the rate of illiteracy and blood crimes were the highest59. Suicide statistics became once again the subject of scholarly attention in 1878, when the Royal Lombard Institute of Sciences, Letters and Arts in Milan launched a competition to encourage scientific study of Italian suicide statistics60. Morselli found himself well situated to compete because of his familiarity with moral statistics and national and international literature on suicide. The commission of the Royal Lombard Institute – consisting in its majority of renowned positivist physicians – chose his five-hundred-page comparative analysis as the winning entry61. For a committed positivist like Morselli, suicide provided a highly suitable platform from which to disseminate his scientific ideas. The regularity of “statistical laws” in relation to a phenomenon that appeared so deeply individualistic seemed to provide the ultimate proof that the positivist approach to social problems was unquestionably superior to beliefs in causes that were over and above regularities62. In the introduction to the Italian edition of his book (which was not included in the English and German translations) described the nineteenth-century emergence of moral statistics as the greatest achievement of modern thought63. In a typical positivist fashion, he retraced the history of the social understanding of the phenomenon of suicide as a trajectory that culminated in the “objective” statistical study of the phenomenon. Statistics, he argued, was largely responsible for the decriminalization of suicide, since it was properly understood as a social phenomenon that obeyed deterministic laws independent from individual will64.

  • 65 Theodore M. Porter, “Statistical and social facts from Quetelet to Durkheim”, op. cit., p. 21.

29Like Wagner, Morselli adopted a multi-causal model of analysis and considered suicide in relation to a range of variables grouped in five classes (cosmic-natural, ethnological, social, individual and psychological). Psychological motives, he stated, were only “apparent” causes of suicide and thus far less relevant than what was commonly believed by the supporters of free-will theory. While it was undeniable that people committed suicide for their own motives, these motives “display regularity and must be understood in terms of more general causes, which alone can account for the stability of suicide within each group and the consistent differences among groups”65.

  • 66 See Enrico Morselli, Suicide, op. cit., p. 20-21.

30The statistics presented by Morselli (which included most of the statistical material on suicide produced in Europe and in the United States until 1878) demonstrated remarkable regularity and general increase in suicide rates in Italy as elsewhere. They also confirmed that, like other Southern countries (e.g. Spain and Portugal), Italy evidenced lower overall suicide rates than France, Germany or England. When disaggregated by region, however, the differences between the Northern and Southern Italy closely mirrored those between Northern and Southern Europe, albeit on a smaller scale66.

  • 67 Ibid., p. 147-148.

31If Italy scored relatively low in the number of suicide in the population, it continued to score high as far as crime was concerned. The statistical picture described by Morselli remained the same as that described by Bonomi nearly a decade earlier. When disaggregated by region, the difference between northern and southern regions in the rates of violent crimes appeared inversely proportional to that of suicide – while in the north of the country violent crime rates remained consistently low, the southern regions and Sardinia continued to have the primacy for blood crimes67. Italian statistics thus not only seemed to confirm the inverse relationship between criminal and suicidal tendencies in the population, as had already been discussed in the work of other moral statisticians, but they also reinforced the representation of a country that after two decades of political unification remained socially and culturally divided and affected by apparently intractable social problems.

  • 68 Morselli, Suicide, op. cit., p. 370.
  • 69 Ibid., 354.
  • 70 Ibid., p. 370.

32The confirmation of this inverse relationship at the Italian and European level was central to Morselli’s evolutionist argument that crime and suicide were two different manifestations of the same natural cause: “If there was no other reasoning by which to demonstrate that suicide amongst civilized people is a consequence of the struggle for life”, he wrote, “the inverse proportion which it has to crime would be sufficient to prove it”68. Homicide, theft, deceit, he continued, are immoral acts performed to satisfy some instinct or want, “the morbid weapons of the competition for life”69. In civilized societies, the struggle tended to become intellectual. In educated but weak individuals, the strain of mental faculties produced brain deterioration, madness or frustrated aspirations and led to despair and suicide. “[H]e […] in whom education instilled the sentiment of duty, will cut the thread of existence with his own hands rather than make use of […] homicidal weapon”70.

33Morselli’s understanding of suicide as the outcome of natural selection was embraced by other prominent representatives of the positivist Italian school of criminology, notably the lawyer Enrico Ferri. In 1884, discussing the social and legal implications of the “naturalization” of the phenomenon of suicide, he argued:

  • 71 Enrico Ferri quoted in Cesare Lombroso, [L’uomo delinquente in rapporto all ‘antropologia, alla giu (...)

If [...] we interrogate the science of life we shall see [...] that the interest of society in the existence of each of its members is not absolute, but that [...] ceases altogether, in the case of voluntary death. [...] [B]iology shows us that in the struggle for existence […] [there are] those least adapted to the social life, who succumb. Suicide is one of the forms of this defeat. It is, according to Haeckel, a safety valve for future generations, to whom it spares a fatal heritage of nervous diseases with their consequent misery. It is, says Bagehot, one of the instruments for the amelioration of the human race by the road of selection71.

34While both Morselli and Ferri went on to become leading Italian scholars, their deterministic and evolutionist interpretation of suicide had a short-lived influence on the understanding of the phenomenon in Italy. In fact, by the end of the 1880s Morselli had developed a more nuanced stance on determinism and evolutionism and had taken some distance from Lombroso’s positions.

35Wagner’s and Morselli’s studies on suicide remain interesting sources to understand how race, biology, crime and religion intermingled closely in the national metanarrative of unification in Italy and Germany. Moral statistics suited the narrative and lead us to question the interpretations of moral suicide statistics formulated in the context of national ideologies. That both figured so poignantly in public discussion indicates a free-flow of ideas that transcends either consideration individually. Mutually, the suicidologists of Germany and Italy colluded in the discussion of national unification, offering scientific proof to underscore its progressive and modernist tone. Given the contribution to biological and evolutionist, indeed even Darwinian justifications for a certain type of ethnic and religious uniformity, questions also emerge about perceptions of retarded national development along the road to fascism. Although these prominent suicidologists did not consciously promote a fascist agenda, they were assuredly heavily invested in the national issue, as a means to promote both their professions and their claims to ascendency into the ruling elite of their newly founded nations.

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Barkin Kenneth, “Adolf Wagner and German Industrial Development”, The Journal of Modern History, 1969, 41 (2), p. 144-159.

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Bianco Elisa, “Suicidi di Primo Ottocento: Riflessioni sulla liceità della morte volontaria nell’Italia preunitaria”, in Paolo L. Bernardini and Anita Virga (eds.), Voglio morire! Suicide in Italian Literature, Culture, and Society 1789-1919, Newcastle Upon Tyne, 2013, p. 85-114.

Bonomi Serafino, Del suicidio in Italia: Studi di statistica medica, Milan, Presso la Societa per la pubblicazione degli Annali universali delle scienze e dell’industria, 1870.

Clark Evalyn, “Adolf Wagner: From National Economist to National Socialist”, Political Science Quarterly, 1940, 55, p. 378-411.

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Kushner Howard, “Suicide, Gender and the Fear of Modernity in Nineteenth-Century Medical and Social Thought”, Journal of Social History, 1993, 26, p. 461-490.

Lee Daryl, “Accounting for Self-Destruction: Morselli, Moral Statistics and the Modernity of Suicide”, Intellectual History Review, 2009, 19, p. 337-352.

Livi Carlo, “Del metodo sperimentale in freniatria e medicina legale”, Rivista Sperimentale di Freniatria e Medicina Legale in relazione con l’Antropologia e le Scienze Giuridiche e Sociali, 1875, 1, p. 1-10.

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Notes

1 Enrico Morselli, Suicide, New York, D. Appelton and Co., 1882, p. 16.

2 Enrico Morselli, Il suicidio: saggio di statistica morale comparata, Milan, Fratelli Dumolard, 1879. The book appeared in German and English translation in 1881 and in English-American translation in 1882.

3 Enrico Morselli, Suicide, op. cit., p. 15.

4 See, for instance, Howard Kushner, “Suicide, Gender and the Fear of Modernity in Nineteenth-Century Medical and Social Thought”, Journal of Social History, 1993, 26, p. 461-490; Theodore M. Porter, “Statistical and social facts from Quetelet to Durkheim”, Sociological Perspectives, 1995, 38, p. 15-26;

Stephen Turner, “Durkheim among the statisticians”, Journal of the History of Behavioral Sciences, 1996, 32, p. 354-378; Robert D. Goldney, Johan A. Schioldann, Kirsten I. Dunn, “Suicide Research Before Durkheim”, Health & History, 2008, 10, p. 80-81; Daryl Lee, “Accounting for Self-Destruction: Morselli, Moral Statistics and the Modernity of Suicide”, Intellectual History Review, 2009, 19, p. 337-352.

5 Two of Oettingen’s brothers held chairs at the university as well.

6 Die Moralstatistik. Inductiver Nachweis der Gesetzmäßigkeit sittlicher Lebensbewegung im Organismus der Menschheit, vol. I: Die Moralstatistik und die christliche Sittenlehre. Versuch einer Socialethik auf empirischer Grundlage, Erlangen, Deichert, 1868.

7 Alexander von Oettingen, Moralstatistik, op. cit., p. 99.

8 In their eulogistic A Translation of André-Michel Guerry’s Essay on the Moral Statistics of France (1833): A Sociological Report to the French Academy of Science (Lewiston, Edwin Mellen Press, 2002), Hugh P. Whitt & Victor W. Reinking (eds. & trans.) argue that Süssmilch’s work is less closely associated to modern sociology and criminology than that of Guerry.

9 Lars Behrisch, “Vermessen, Zählen, Berechnen des Raumes im 18. Jahrhundert”, in Lars Behrisch (ed.), Vermessen, Zählen, Berechnen. Die politische Ordnung des Raumes im 18. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt, Campus Verlag, 2006, p. 7-26.

10 Frederick Stephen Crum, The Statistical Work of Süssmilch, Boston, 1901, p. 6ff, 21.

11 Ian Hacking, The Taming of Chance, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1990, p. 21f.

12 Ibid., p. 24; Mary Poovey, A History of the Modern Fact: Problems of Knowledge in the Sciences of Wealth and Society, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1998, p. 308.

13 Johann Peter Süssmilch, Die göttliche Ordnung in den Veränderungen des menschlichen Geschlechts, aus der Geburt, dem Tode und der Fortpflanzung desselben erwiesen, Erster Theil, 1761, Berlin, Im Verlag des Buchladens der Realschule, p. 18, online at: http://echo.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/ECHOdocuView?url=/permanent/echo/mpi_rostock/suessmilch_1761/index.meta&pn=4; see also Ian Hacking, The Taming of Chance, op. cit., p. 20.

14 Alain Desrosières, The Politics of Large Numbers. A History of Statistical Reasoning, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1998, p. 74; Ian Hacking, The Taming of Chance, op. cit., p. 21.

15 Johann Peter Süssmilch, Die göttliche Ordnung, op. cit., vol. II, p. 434f.

16 Ursula Baumann, Vom Recht auf den eigenen Tod. Die Geschichte des Suizids vom 18. bis 20. Jahrhundert, Weimar, Verlag Hermann Böhlaus Nachfolger, 2001, p. 220.

17 Ibid.

18 On other highly influential aspects of Wagner’s political economics, from American fiscal policy to health care and the NHS, see Jürgen Backhaus (ed.), Essays on Security and Taxation: Gustav Schmoller and Adolf Wagner reconsidered, Marburg, Metropolis, 1997.

19 Biographies, both in German and English translation, are available in Heinrich Rubner, Adolf Wagner. Briefe, Dokumente, Augenzeugenberichte, Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, 1978, p. 428-438. Suicide hardly figures into his correspondence at all, where academic debates, controversies and petty personal conflicts consistently loom largest.

20 Ibid., p. 436. Years after his death, Wagner became a championed hero of the Nazi movement; see Evalyn Clark, “Adolf Wagner: From National Economist to National Socialist”, Political Science Quarterly, 1940, 55, p. 378-411.

21 Adolf Wagner, Die Gesetzmässigkeit in den scheinbar willkührlichen menschlichen Handlungen vom Standpunkte der Statistik, Hamburg, Boyes & Geisler, 1864.

22 Adolf Wagner, Die Gesetzmässigkeit, op. cit., p. 188; author’s translation.

23 Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge, Religion, Deviance and Social Control, New York, Routledge, 1996, p. 46ff.

24 Adolf Wagner, Die Gesetzmässigkeit, op. cit., p. 180.

25 Ibid., p. 189.

26 See Adolf Wagner’s review of Morselli’s study on suicide in Zeitschrift für die gesammte Staatswissenschaft, 1880, 36, p. 190-194.

27 Ibid.

28 Kenneth Barkin, “Adolf Wagner and German Industrial Development”, The Journal of Modern History, 1969, 41 (2), p. 154f.

29 Unpublished speech, Warum muss sich der Geistliche um die Bodenreform kuemmern? (1910). The speech, along with a large number of his papers are listed in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek as lost during the Second World War. However, a complete list of his private papers was already catalogued in an article by Joachim Kirchner, “Adolf Wagners Nachlaß in der Preusischen Staatsbibliothek”, Sonderabzug aus Schmollers Jahrbuch für Gesetzgebung, Verwaltung und Volkswirtschaft im Deutschen Reiche, 1927, 192, p. 147-155.

30 These comments appear in a later edition of Moralstatistik (Erlangen, 1888), p. 24, cited by Hugh P. Whitt & Victor W. Reinking, A Translation of André-Michel Guerry’s Essay on the Moral Statistics of France, op. cit., p. ix.

31 Alexander von Oettingen, Über die Akuten und Chronischen Selbstmord, Dorpat/Tellin, E. F. Karow’s Universitätsbuchhandlung, 1881.

32 Ibid., p. 4.

33 Ibid., p. 28.

34 Ibid., p. 31.

35 Ibid., author’s translation.

36 Ernst Troeltsch, Die Bedeutung des Protestantismus für die Entstehung der modernen Welt, Munich/Berlin, Oldenbourg, 1911, published in the series Historische Bibliothek by the Historische Zeitschrit, flagship journal of the German National Historical Association.

37 Joachim Kirchner, “Adolf Wagners Nachlaß in der Preusischen Staatsbibliothek”, op. cit.; Ferdinand Tönnies, “Adolf Wagner”, Deutsche Rundschau, 174, p. 107ff.

38 Joachim Kirchner, “Adolf Wagners Nachlaß in der Preusischen Staatsbibliothek”, op. cit.

39 Ernst Troeltsch, Kritische Gesamtausgabe: Band 2: Rezensionen und Kritiken (1894-1900), Berlin/New York, 2007, p. 501-507.

40 Enrico Morselli, Suicide, op. cit., Preface, p. vi.

41 Hacking argues that Wagner took distance from his uncompromising statistical determinism after experiencing “a radical politico-economic conversion about 1870, in time to become, with [Ernst] Engel, a founding member of Verein für Sozialpolitik”. Wagner’s change of mind thus illustrates the influence of alternative societal visions on the interpretation of statistical regularity. When Wagner “subscribed to a ‘Western’ atomistic and individualist vision of society, he believed in statistical law to the extent of favouring fatalism. As his conceptions became more collectivist, his enthusiasm for statistical fatalism declined.” Ian Hacking, Taming of Chance, op. cit., p. 130-131.

42 Enrico Morselli, Suicide, op. cit., p. VI.

43 Ibid. Theodore Porter argues that Morselli was fascinated by the statistical regularities and inclined to see a ‘statistical law’ in an aggregate number that remained relatively constant from year to year’. Theodore M. Porter, “Statistical and social facts from Quetelet to Durkheim”, op. cit., p. 6.

44 In his short autobiography written years later at the request of Onorato Roux, Morselli mentioned the important role that Canestrini and others had played in his training, but argued that Gaddi was probably the scholar who had influenced him most during his academic years. Gaddi not only encouraged his interest in anthropology, but invited him to work in the anatomical museum of the university and familiarized him with ‘craniology’, a field of investigation connected to an evolutionary theory of racial development. See Enrico Morselli, ‘Enrico Morselli’ in Illustri Italiani Contemporanei, vol. 3, ed. Onorato Roux, Florence, 1908, R. Bemporad & Figlio, p. 315-364. For the intellectual biography of Morselli see Patrizia Guarnieri, “Between Soma and PsycheMorselli and Psychiatry in late-nineteenth-century Italy”, in William F. Bynum, Roy Porter, and Michael Shepherd (eds.), The Anatomy of Madness: Essays in the History of Psychiatry, vol. 3, London/New York, Routledge, 1988, p. 102-124; Chiara Bartolucci and Giovanni Pietro Lombardo, “Evolutionary Monism in the Study of Mental Phenomena. The Clinical Differential Psychopathology of Enrico Morselli, Scientist and Philosopher (1852–1929)”, History & Philosophy of Psychology, 2012, 14, p. 11-21.

45 Livi argued that the neologism ‘phreniatry’ conveyed better than other terms the organicistic orientation of the discipline. See Carlo Livi, “Del metodo sperimentale in freniatria e medicina legale”, Rivista Sperimentale di Freniatria e Medicina Legale in relazione con l’Antropologia e le Scienze Giuridiche e Sociali, 1875, 1, p. 1-10, especially p. 1-2.

46 Ibid., p. 7.

47 Cesare Lombroso was a more complex and interesting figure than it is often suggested. A liberal at the time of unification and later a Socialist, Lombroso was committed to the building of the nation. As Daniel Pick puts it: “he denied the validity of grand metaphysical ideas, [but] he was nonetheless profoundly idealistic in his desire to serve the nation through the scrupulous impartiality of his social theory”. Daniel Pick, Faces of Degeneration: A European Disorder, c. 1848-c. 1918, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 116.

48 As Pick points out, Lombroso’s evolutionary concept was not Darwinian as such, but rather a conflation of biological and anthropological approaches taken from authors such as Moleschott, Büchner, Morel, Haekel, Broca and Spencer. See Daniel Pick, Faces, op. cit., p. 112.

49 Ibid.

50 Published as a supplement to the Rivista Sperimentale di Freniatria in 1877, Morselli’s statistical study extrapolated suicide rates among criminals from the incomplete records of suicide among prison inmates, gathered by the Italian Ministry of Interior in the years 1866-1872, and compared these rates with suicide rates in the general population in Italy (for the years 1864-67) and in other European countries. See Enrico Morselli, Contributo alla psicologia dell’uomo delinquente. Note statistiche e antropologiche sui delinquenti suicidi, Reggio Emilia, Stefano Calderini,1877.

51 In his work, Morselli referred to the studies by the psychiatrist Arrigo Tamassia (1848-1917), a student of Lombroso, on insanity rates among prison inmates and on the function of legal medicine in the project for the new Italian penal code that was discussed in those years. See Arrigo Tamassia, “La pazzia nei criminali italiani”, Rivista di discipline carcerarie, 1874, 4, p. 301-309; Il progetto del codice penale pel regno d’Italia, Milano, Fratelli Rechiedei, 1874.

52 As Morselli put it, “it is anthropologically demonstrated that suicide is brought about by civilization and is not to be found among the lower classes”. Enrico Morselli, Contributo, op. cit., p. 39.

53 See Prosper Despine, Psychologie naturelle: Étude sur les facultés intellectuelles et morales, Paris, F. Savy, 1868.

54 Enrico Morselli, Contributo, op. cit., p. 3.

55 Ibid., 10.

56 See Elisa Bianco, “Suicidi di Primo Ottocento: Riflessioni sulla liceità della morte volontaria nell’Italia preunitaria”, in Paolo L. Bernardini and Anita Virga (eds.), Voglio morire! Suicide in Italian Literature, Culture, and Society 1789-1919, Newcastle Upon Tyne, 2013, p. 85-114.

57 In 1861, an article by the psychiatrist Andrea Verga in the psychiatric appendix of the Gazzetta Medica Italiana on the number of suicides in Turin between 1825 and 1859, indicated that in the capital of the Italian Kingdom (Rome and the Papal States were annexed to the nation only in 1870) the number of suicides had not augmented as in other European capitals. See Andrea Verga, “Suicidi in Torino dal 1825 al 1859”, Gazzetta Medica Italiana – Lombardia – Appendice Psichiatrica, 13, April 1, 1861, p. 113-115.

58 Silvana Patriarca, Numbers and Nationhood. Writing Statistics in Nineteenth-Century Italy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996, p. 178.

59 See Serafino Bonomi, Del suicidio in Italia: Studi di statistica medica, Milan, Presso la Societa per la pubblicazione degli Annali universali delle scienze e dell’industria, 1870.

60 Reale Istituto Lombardo di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Rendiconti, Séance August 1, 1878, p. 630. See also Ty Geltmaker, Tired of Living: Suicide in Italy from National Unification to World War I, 1860-1915, New York, Peter Lang, 2002, p. 27.

61 See, for instance, the review by G. J. Romanes, Nature, 1881, 25, p. 193-196.

62 Ian Hacking, The Taming of Chance, op. cit., p. 128.

63 Enrico Morselli, “Introduction: La statistica dei fatti morali e specialmente del suicidio, in Il suicidio, p. 1-50.

64 Ibid., p. 31-40.

65 Theodore M. Porter, “Statistical and social facts from Quetelet to Durkheim”, op. cit., p. 21.

66 See Enrico Morselli, Suicide, op. cit., p. 20-21.

67 Ibid., p. 147-148.

68 Morselli, Suicide, op. cit., p. 370.

69 Ibid., 354.

70 Ibid., p. 370.

71 Enrico Ferri quoted in Cesare Lombroso, [L’uomo delinquente in rapporto all ‘antropologia, alla giurisprudenza ed alla psichiatria (cause e rimedi), Torino, Fratelli Bocca, 1897] Crime: its Causes and Remedies, London, W. Heinemann, 1911, p. 415.

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Maria Teresa Brancaccio et David Lederer, « The Influence of National Unification on the Interpretation of Suicide Statistics in Nineteenth-Century Germany and Italy », Criminocorpus [En ligne], La pathologie du suicide, Communications, mis en ligne le 14 mai 2018, consulté le 20 juin 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/criminocorpus/3818

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Auteurs

Maria Teresa Brancaccio

Maria Teresa Brancaccio is Assistant Professor in History of Public Health at the Department, Health, Ethics and Society, Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, University of Maastricht and international correspondent at the UCL Health Humanities Centre (London). Her main research subjects are: history of the category of child hyperactivity; history of war trauma; history of suicide; history of hypnotism and psychical research.

David Lederer

David Lederer is Senior Lecturer in History at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. His main research areas are: Early Modern Europe, Germany, History of Suicide, History of Emotion.

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