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Trained as a psychologist in Italy and the US, Filippo is a Roy McMurtry Fellow in Legal History studying the history of human sciences, medicine, and disability. Before moving to Canada, he worked as a Health Promoter in several reception centers for asylum seekers in North-East Italy and as a Head-hunter for a Dutch multinational firm. Besides co-authoring a book and two papers on the concept of normality in psychology, he recently wrote on the certification of insanity, the history of monstrosity in nineteenth-century statistics, and on the emergence of psychiatric training in England.

His dissertation, entitled “The Certification of Insanity: A Transnational History”, explores the emergence of the medical certification of insanity in the second half of the nineteenth century. Taking a transnational approach, he looks at the diffusion of the so-called “Imperial system of certification” in various jurisdictions around the world, including England, Ontario, Tasmania. His research engages with some of the most delicate issues in contemporary mental health, including the production of stigma, expertise, and the law-medicine relationship in involuntary confinements.

His graduate studies at the University of Toronto are funded by an Ontario Trillium Scholarship (OTS), by the Osgoode Society, and by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s (CAMH) historical liaison. In 2021, he was nominated a Junior Fellow of Victoria College.

Passionate about Digital Humanities, he created Mindthepast.com a website dedicated to mental health and disability rights in history. He is an Assistant Editor of H-Madness and a former Editor of H-Disability.

In his free time, he likes playing Delta Blues (in Open G), Boxing (Welter), and watching very long Movies (like There will be Blood). Some say he can make a pretty good gorgonzola risotto…

Selected Publications:

Sposini FM (2020). Confinement and certificates: Consensus, stigma, and disability rights. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 192(48), pp. E1642-E1643.

Sposini FM (2020). Just the basic facts: The certification of insanity in the era of the Form K. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 75(2), pp. 171-192.

Sposini FM (2019). At the borders of the average man: Adolphe Quêtelet on mental, moral, and criminal monstrosities. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 56(3), pp. 201-217.

Turchi GP & Sposini FM (2016). Al di là del normale e del patologico: Sulle possibilità normative tra medicina e psicologia. [Beyond Normality and Pathology: On the Normative Possibilities in Medicine and Psychology]. Napoli: Edises.


Sposini FM (2021). The paper technology of confinement: Evolving criteria in Admission Forms (1850-1873). History of Psychiatry, Accepted for Publication.

Sposini FM (2021). The rise of psychological physicians: The certification of insanity and the teaching of medical psychology. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Accepted for Publication.




Contact Information

  • E-mail address: filippomaria.sposini@mail.utoronto.ca