Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893)

Charcot was 'the most powerful and influential neurological clinician of the nineteenth century' (Goetz, Harter, 2009). He was a medecin des hopitaux de Paris, and head of the Salpetriere hospital in 1862. In 1872 he became a professor of pathology at the Faculty of Medicine of Pari, and then became the first professor to hold the chair of the diseases of the nervous system (a position which was created for him at the Salpetriere hospital in 1882).

The famous painting (which we saw in the seminar) called Une lecon clinique a la Salpetriere (A clinical Lecture at the Salpetriere), by Andre Brouillet, shows Charcot examining his hysterical patient Blanche Whitman (1859-1913). Charcot is surrounded by his students and various important Parisian figures.

In 1881 Charcot was celebrated at the medical congress of London.

He was acquainted with Sigmund Freud from 1885. Freud translated Charcot's lectures into German and kept a reproduction of Andre Brouillet's painting in his living room.

Charcot is associated with 'anti clerical' ideas.


Broussolle, E., J. Poirier, F. Clarac, J. G. Barbara, 'Figures and Institutions of the neurological sciences In Paris from 1800-1950'

Goetz, G. C., D. H. Harter, Charcot and Pasteur: Intersecting Orbits in the Fin de Siecle French Medicine. Journal of the History of Neurosciences, 18 (2009), pp.378-386.