Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room, May 2014: Jean Étienne Dominique Esquirol

Jean Étienne Dominique Esquirol (1772-1840)

Des maladies mentales considérées sous les rapports médical, hygiénique et médicolégal. 2 vols. Brussels : J.B. Tircher, 1838.

An inmate of Bethlem Hospital in 1814, who has been identified as William Norris, from Jean-Étienne Dominique Esquirol's Des maladies mentales. Brussels: Libraire médicale et scientifique de JB Tircher, 1838 [Institute of Psychiatry Historical Collection h/Esq]

Esquirol’s drawing of an inmate of Bethlem Hospital.

As Pinel’s most outstanding pupil, Esquirol so closely followed his teacher’s works that the contributions of the two men are sometimes confused. Like Pinel, Esquirol did not attempt to analyze mental illness from a philosophical standpoint, but sought to classify and describe the various kinds of insanity he encountered in his practice.

Esquirol coined the term monomania, a concept which anticipated the modern view of schizophrenia, and he was the first to distinguish hallucination from illusion.

While at Sâlpetrière, where he succeeded Pinel as chief physician, Esquirol introduced formal instruction in psychiatry and gained support for Pinel’s humanitarian reform movements by lecturing throughout Europe. Des maladies mentales, the work for which he is best known, served as a basic text in psychiatry for over fifty years.

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Text via Donna Hirst, Curator of Rare Books for the John Martin Rare Book Room at Hardin Library for the Health Sciences.

Image via