Henry Morselli

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Enrico Agostino Morselli
PSM V52 D774 Enrico Morselli.jpg
Occupation Physician, Psychical researcher

Enrico "Henry" Agostino Morselli (1852-1929) was an Italian physician and psychical researcher.

Morselli was professor at the University of Turin. He is best known for the publication of his influential book, Suicide: An Essay on Comparative Moral Statistics (1881) claiming that suicide was primarily the result of the struggle for life and nature's evolutionary process.[1][2][3][4]

According to Edward Shorter "Morselli is known outside of Italy for having coined the term dysmorphophobia. In Italy, he is known for a big psychiatry textbook, A Guide to the Semiotics of Mental Illness."[5]

Morselli was an eugenicist and some of his writings have been linked to scientific racialism.[6][7] Morselli was also interested in mediumship and psychical research. He studied the medium Eusapia Palladino and concluded that some of her phenomena was genuine, being evidence for an unknown bio-psychic force present in all humans.[8]

Selected works[edit]


  • Suicide: An Essay on Comparative Moral Statistics (1881)
  • A Guide to the Semiotics of Mental Illness (Manuale di semeiotica delle malattie mentali) (1895)

Psychical research

  • Morselli, E. (1907). Eusapia Paladino and the Genuineness of Her Phenomena. Annals of Psychical Science 5: 319-360, 399-421.
  • Morselli, E. (1908). Psicologia e “Spiritismo”: Impressioni e Note Critiche sui Fenomeni Medianici di Eusapia Palladino (2 vols). Turin: Fratelli Bocca.


  1. ^ Stark, Rodney; Bainbridge, William Sims. (1996). Religion, Deviance and Social Control. Routledge. p. 32. ISBN 978-0415915298
  2. ^ Maj, Mario; Ferro, F. M. (2002). Anthology of Italian Psychiatric Texts. World Psychiatric Association. pp. 177-180. ISBN 2-84671-041-4
  3. ^ Farberow, Norman L. "History of Suicide" In "Suicide Basics" article, Encyclopedia of Death and Dying (Retrieved June 29, 2009).
  4. ^ Weaver, John. (2009). Sadly Troubled History: The Meanings of Suicide in the Modern Age. McGill Queens University Press. pp. 25-26. ISBN 978-0773535138
  5. ^ Shorter, Edward. (2005). A Historical Dictionary of Psychiatry. Oxford University Press. p. 182. ISBN 978-0195176681
  6. ^ Cassata, Francesco. (2011). Building the New Man: Eugenics, Racial Science and Genetics in Twentieth-Century Italy. Central European University Press. pp. 18-21. ISBN 978-9639776838
  7. ^ Bashford, Alison; Levine, Philippa. (2012). The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics. Oxford University Press. p. 380. ISBN 978-0199945054
  8. ^ Brancaccio, Maria Teresa. (2014). Enrico Morselli's Psychology and "Spiritism": Psychiatry, psychology and psychical research in Italy in the decades around 1900. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 48: 75-84.

External links[edit]