JOURNAL ARTICLE

Figures and Institutions of the neurological sciences in Paris from 1800 to 1950. Part IV: Psychiatry and psychology

J Poirier, F Clarac, J-G Barbara, E Broussolle
Revue Neurologique 2012, 168 (5): 389-402
22555011
We present a short historical review on the major institutions and figures who contributed to make Paris a renowned centre of physiology and neurology during the XIXth and the first half of the XXth century. We purposely chose to focus on the period 1800-1950, as 1800 corresponds to the actual beginning of neurosciences, and as 1950 marks their exponential rise. Our presentation is divided into four chapters, matching the main disciplines that have progressed and contributed most to the knowledge we have of the brain sciences: anatomy, physiology, neurology, and psychiatry-psychology. The present article is the fourth of the four parts of this review, which deals with the chapter on psychiatry and psychology. When the French Revolution occurred, only a few institutions were taking care of the mentally ill. In the Paris area, these included Maison Royale de Charenton, Les Petites Maisons, and one of the departments of larger hospitals such as Hôtel-Dieu, the Salpêtrière Hospital and Bicêtre Hospital. One of the founders of psychiatry in Paris at that time and thereafter was Philippe Pinel (1745-1826) who was the first to distinguish insane/alienated patients from misfits, beggars, and other vagabonds. During the first half of the XIXth century, his student Jean-Étienne Esquirol (1772-1840) also played a major role with his treatise on mental diseases and the 1838 law and the creation of asylums in all parts of France. Alienists were in general caregivers and learned by themselves. In contrast, at the academic level, the emerging disciplines psychiatry and neurology were very close to each other in the second half of the XIXth century, the best example being Jules Baillarger (1809-1890). The actual development of psychiatry and psychology and the foundation of psychoanalysis later in the XIXth century and in the first half of the XXth century owed much to several European doctors and scientists, particularly those from British institutions and from German-speaking universities in Central Europe. In France, important advances were once again initiated in Paris by Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893) and some of his pupils who renewed the concept of hysteria and the use of hypnosis. Sainte-Anne Hospital was created in 1867. This new institution located in the southern part of Paris became (and is still) one of the most important places in France for the treatment, research and teaching of mental diseases. Thereafter started new disciplines such as clinical psychology and neuropsychology; the scientific basis of psychology and notably the psychopathology hypothesis were established. A major revolutionary step occurred in Paris in the early 1950s with the discovery of neuroleptics and the birth of psychopharmacology. Here we present the biographical sketches of the most important Parisian scientists of these disciplines from that era, Philippe Pinel, Jean-Étienne Esquirol, Théodule Armand Ribot, Pierre Janet, Henri Louis Charles Piéron, Henry Ey, Jean Delay, Henri Laborit and Henri Hécaen.

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