Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893)
Jean-Martin Charcot was both a neurologist and psychiatrist who trained under Duchenne de Bologne. Charcot worked at the Hôpital universitaire Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris. Charcot described both Multiple Sclerosis and the eponymous Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. He also developed the understanding of Parkinson’s Disease. All of these accomplishments were sufficient to qualify Charcot as an important figure in the development of Neurology.
However Charcot is also noted for his conceptualisation of hysteria and hypnotism. Charcot was influenced by Mesmer. He believed that hysteria resulted from a hereditary predisposition and was a disorder of the nervous system. He further believed that the ability to be hypnotised occurred in the hysterical state.
Sigmund Freud was a student of Charcot and his later works were influenced by the theories of Charcot. Charcot debated with Hippolyte Bernheim who believed that hynotism was due to suggestion rather than an underlying neurological predisposition.
Charcot’s works traversed both Neurology and Psychiatry and in modern terms he may be considered a Neuropsychiatrist as well as a Neurologist. His teaching was to influence Freud and the later development of Psychoanalysis.
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