23 August 2023

23 August

Roberto Assagioli – psychiatrist

Harsh imprisonment sparked new psychiatric theories

Roberto Assagioli, the pioneering psychiatrist who founded the science of psychosynthesis, died on this day in 1974 in Capolona in the province of Arezzo in Tuscany.  His innovative psychological movement, which emphasised the possibility of progressive integration, or synthesis, of the personality, aimed at finding inner peace and harmony. It is still admired and is being developed by therapists and psychologists today.  Assagioli explained his ideas in four books - two published posthumously - and the many different pamphlets he wrote during his lifetime. In 1940 the psychiatrist had to spend 27 days in solitary confinement in prison, having been arrested by Mussolini’s Fascist government for praying for peace and encouraging others to join him. He later claimed this experience helped him make his psychological discovery.  Assagioli was born under the name of Roberto Marco Grego in 1888 into a middle-class, Jewish background in Venice.  His father died when he was two years old and his mother remarried quickly to Alessandro Emanuele Assagioli. As a young child Roberto was exposed to art and music and learnt many different languages.  Read more…


Pino Presti – bass player and composer

Talented musician could sing, play guitar, compose and conduct

Pino Presti, one of the most important personalities in the Italian music business, was born Giuseppe Prestipino Giarritta on this day in 1943 in Milan.  He is a bass guitar player, arranger, composer, conductor and record producer and his work ranges between the different music genres of pop, jazz, funk, latin and dance.  His father, Arturo Prestipino Giarritta, was a well-known violinist and Presti began studying piano and music theory at the age of six.  He taught himself to play the bass guitar and began playing professionally at the age of 17, having developed his own special technique using either the pick or thumb.  Presti was a pioneer of electric bass and was probably the first to play a Fender Jazz Bass in Italy.  His talent for playing the instrument led him to collaborate with the major Italian pop artists of the 1960s, including the famous singer, Mina, who is Italy's all-time top-selling female recording artist. Presti arranged and conducted 86 tracks and composed four songs for her, also sometimes backing her as a singer.  Among the many other artists he worked with were Bobby Solo, Gigliola Cinquetti and Adriano Celentano.  Read more…


Giovanni Minzoni - priest

Devout Catholic murdered for opposing Fascists

Don Giovanni Minzoni, a Catholic priest whose name is commemorated in many street names around Italy, was murdered by Fascist thugs in the small town of Argenta in Emilia-Romagna on this day in 1923.  A parish priest in the town, midway between the cities of  Ferrara and Ravenna, Don Minzoni was attacked at around 10.30pm as he returned to his rectory in the company of Enrico Bondanelli, a parishioner, when he was set upon by two men who were attached to a Fascist militia in Casumaro, almost 50km (31 miles) from Argenta on the other side of Ferrara. He was pelted with stones and, when the blows made him fall to the ground, was beaten. What proved to be the fatal blow was struck with a heavy walking stick. He had a fractured skull and, despite being helped home by Bondanelli and neighbours, died a couple of hours later. His attackers were later named as Giorgio Molinari and Vittore Casoni, who were allegedly acting on the orders of Italo Balbo, a Blackshirt Commander who would later be seen as an heir to dictator Benito Mussolini.  Don Minzoni, a former military chaplain, had made no secret of his opposition to the Fascist regime. Read more…


Rita Pavone - teenage singing star

Precocious talent who conquered America

Rita Pavone, who was one of Europe's biggest teenage singing stars in the 1960s and was still performing live concerts as recently as 2014 and sang at the Sanremo Music Festival in 2020, was born on this day in 1945 in Turin. The singer had her first hit single when she was just 17 years old and enjoyed success at home and in America during a career that spanned more than five decades, going on to become an accomplished actress on television and in the theatre.  She announced she was quitting show business in 2006 but came out of retirement in 2013 to record two studio albums as a tribute to the stars who had influenced her in throughout her career, then embarking on a series of live concerts in Italy in 2014 and performing in Toronto, Canada exactly 50 years after her first appearance there.  In 2016, she appeared in Ballando Con le Stelle - the Italian equivalent of the US show Dancing With the Stars and Britain's Strictly Come Dancing - and finished third with partner Simone Di Pasquale, reaching the final despite being the oldest competitor.  Pavone spent her early years living in a two-room apartment in Turin.  She was the third of four children yet it was not until 1959 that the family was able to move somewhere bigger.  Read more…


Book of the Day: Creating Harmony in Life: a Psychosynthesis approach, by Roberto Assagioli

This collection of early lectures by Roberto Assagioli, originally published in Italian under the title Psicosintesi: Per l’armonia della vita (1966), describes how to apply psychosynthesis mainly for self improvement. Although some decades have passed since the first Italian edition, Creating Harmony in Life contains inspirational principles and expresses ideas in the fields of education and society which can still be considered innovative in our time. It is an essential work for understanding the principles, techniques and application of psychosynthesis for the personal development of the reader. Many of the topics discussed were developed further by the author in subsequent texts and articles, nevertheless, the value of this book lies in their being presented together, thus conveying a completely new vision of the world and humankind.

Roberto Assagioli received his first degree in neurology and psychiatry at Istituto di Studii Superiori Pratici e di Perfezionamento, in Florence in 1910.  He trained in psychiatry at the psychiatric hospital Burghölzli in Zürich in Switzerland before opening the first psychoanalytic practice in Italy, known as Istituto di Psicosintesi.

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