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Jean Martin Charcot

Charcot, Jean Martin (zhäN märtăNˈ shärkōˈ) [key], 1825–93, French neurologist. At the Salpêtrière in Paris he developed the greatest clinic of his time for diseases of the nervous system. He made many important observations on these diseases, described the characteristics of tabes dorsalis, differentiated multiple sclerosis and paralysis agitans, recognized that amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) was a disease of the motor neurons, and wrote on many neurological subjects. He experimented with hypnosis of his "hysterical" female patients in lectures that often resembled entertainments rather than medical treatments. Nonetheless, Charcot's insight into the nature of hysteria was credited by Sigmund Freud, his pupil, with having contributed to the early psychoanalytic formulations on the subject.

See biography by G. Guillain (1959); study by A. R. Owen (1971); A. Hustvedt, Medical Muses: Hysteria in Nineteenth-Century Paris (2011).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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