[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]


Related: abnormal psychology - ADHD - mental illness - psychology - psychopathology - psychoanalysis

A Clinical Lesson at the Salpetriere (1887) - André Brouillet

Professor Charcot was well-known for showing, during his lessons at the Salpêtrière hospital, "hysterical" woman patients – here, his favorite patient, "Blanche" (Marie) Wittman, supported by Joseph Babi?ski.


Psychiatry is a branch of medicine that studies and treats mental and emotional disorders (see mental illness). While any physician may prescribe the medications used to treat various forms of mental illness, psychiatrists are more extensively trained in differential diagnosis of mental illness and keep up to date on the newest treatment modalities for mental illness. The term alienist is an old term for a psychiatrist, and the term shrink (from "head shrinker") is a (sometimes offensive) slang term for a psychotherapist.

Note that psychiatry is practiced by psychiatrists, by psychologists. Psychiatrists are medical doctors and may prescribe drugs. Psychology is the broader study of behaviour and thought processes not just in the context of mental health. Clinical psychologists specialize in mental health and have extensive training in therapy and psychological testing. They do not usually prescribe drugs. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychiatry [May 2005]


Beginning in the 1960s, a movement called anti-psychiatry claimed that psychiatric patients do not necessarily have a "mental illness", but in fact are individuals who do not ascribe to the same conventional belief system, or consensus reality, shared by most people in their particular culture. Adherents of this movement sometimes refer to "the myth of mental illness", after Dr. Thomas Szasz's controversial book, The Myth of Mental Illness. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-psychiatry [Dec 2005]

R. D. Laing

Ronald David Laing (October 7, 1927 – August 23, 1989), was a Scottish psychiatrist who wrote extensively on mental illness and particularly the experience of psychosis. He is noted for his views, influenced by existential philosophy, on the causes and treatment of mental illness, which went against the psychiatric orthodoxy of the time by taking the expressions or communications of the individual patient or client as representing valid descriptions of lived experience or reality rather than as symptoms of some separate or underlying disorder. He is often associated with the anti-psychiatry movement although, like many of his contemporaries also critical of psychiatry, he himself rejected this label. He made a significant contribution to the ethics of psychology. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._D._Laing

In Erica Jong's novel Fear of Flying, Adrian Goodlove is a Laingian analyst. [Aug 2006]

Jean-Martin Charcot

Jean-Martin Charcot (November 29, 1825 - August 16, 1893) was a French neurologist. His work greatly impacted the developing fields of neurology and psychology.


Charcot's most enduring work is that on hypnosis and hysteria. Charcot believed that hysteria was a neurological disorder caused by hereditary problems in the nervous system. He used hypnosis to induce a state of hysteria in patients and studied the results, and was single-handedly responsible for changing the French medical community's opinion about the validity of hypnosis (it was previously rejected as Mesmerism). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Martin_Charcot [Mar 2006]


Hysteria is a diagnostic label applied to a state of mind, one of unmanageable fear or emotional excesses. The fear is often centered on a body part, most often on an imagined problem with that body part (disease is a common complaint). People who are "hysterical" often lose self-control due to the overwhelming fear. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hysteria [Mar 2006]

The Salpêtrière hospital

Photographic Iconography of Salpêtrière.
Paris: 1876-1880
Image sourced here.

More images here, here and here.

The Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital is a hospital in Paris. Salpêtrière was originally a gunpowder factory ("Saltpeter" being a constituent of gunpowder), but was converted to a dumping ground for the poor of Paris. Eventually it served as a prison for prostitutes, and a holding place for the mentally disabled, criminally insane, epileptics, and the poor; it was also notable for its famous population of rats.

During the French Revolutionary period, it was stormed by the mob and the prostitutes released, but others (probably madwomen) were less fortunate and were murdered. Since the Revolution, La Salpêtrière has served as an insane asylum and a hospital for women.

One of its most famous professors, Jean-Martin Charcot, is often credited as the founder of modern neurology. His teaching activities on the Salpêtrière's wards helped to elucidate the natural history and pathophysiology of many human illnesses including neurosyphilis, epilepsy, and stroke.

Diana, Princess of Wales died in the Salpêtrière. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piti%C3%A9-Salp%C3%AAtri%C3%A8re_Hospital [Mar 2006]

See also: 1870s - psychiatry - France

DSM-IV-TR Handbook

  1. DSM-IV-TR Handbook of Differential Diagnosis - Michael B. First, Allen, Md Frances, Harold Alan, MD Pincus [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products

    Managed Hosting by NG Communications