De l'arthropathie des ataxiques.

Ball, Benjamin 1825-1893.

Journal : Revue photographique des hôpitaux de Paris ; vol. 3.

Paris : Adrien Delahaye, 1871.

Description : 289-296 p., [1 l. pl.] ; ill.: 1 photo. ; 24.5 cm.

Photograph : mounted albumen of reclining male subject, background inked out.

Subject : Joints — Tabes dorsalis; tabetic osteoarthropathy; complications and sequelæ.

Notes :

Messieurs, nous sommes en présence d'une de ces arthropathies qui se développent quelquefois dans le cours de l'ataxie locomotrice, et qui ont été signalées, pour la première fois, par M.Charcot. — page 292.

Gentlemen, we are in the presence of one of these arthropathies which develop sometimes in the course of the locomotor ataxia, and which was announced, for the first time, by M. Charcot.

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For two years after his nomination to the faculty of physicians in 1866, Benjamin Ball assisted Charcot on a number of journal articles and with the editing of Charcot's monograph on diseases of old age which included a chapter on rheumatism.1 Rheumatology was a specialty of Ball's and the subject of a dissertation he submitted for agrégation into the faculty. He also contributed to Charcot's classical study of tabes dorsalis published in 1868, which established the differential diagnosis between the arthropathies caused by rheumatoid arthritis and those associated with tabetic lesions.2 Charcot's paper is also known by the title, Des arthropathies liées à l'ataxie locomotrice progressive — a title which Ball appropriated for his own study of tabes dorsalis published in 1869 which found 18 additional cases beyond the 4 discussed by Charcot.3 Ball acknowledges that Charcot brought forward the first clinical description of the arcing pains symptomatic of tabes dorsalis, and this lecture contributes nothing new beyond Charcot's work except for intercurrent complications of a skin rash and swelling in his patient's left arm.4 History has been unkind to Dr. Ball, an undistinguished physician who was appointed in April 1877 to France's inaugural chair of psychiatry within the faculty of medicine — chaire de pathologie mentale et des maladies de l'encéphale. He came to this position largely through the support of Ernest-Charles Lasègue (1816-1883), but only after it was first offered to Jules-Gabriel-François Baillarger (1815-1890) who declined for reasons of age. As France's top psychiatrist, Ball was given a lectureship at Sainte-Anne asylum, but the position was more honorific than plenary and he was vexed by rivalries and criticism for the rest of his career. Even his obituary in the journal Archives de Neurologie (1893, pp. 399-401) was unkind to his memory, remarking that the man carried his grudges at the expense of his science. As much as he was begrudging toward his detractors, however, he was generous toward his friends and his monograph on persecution complex is a tribute to the memory of his benefactor Lasègue who first described the disorder.5

1 Charcot, Jean-Martin (1867), Leçons sur les maladies des vieillards et les maladies chroniques. Paris: A. Delahaye.
2 Charcot, Jean-Martin (1868), Sur quelques arthropathies qui paraissent dépendre d'une lésion du cerveau ou de la moelle épinière. Journal: Archives de physiologie normale et pathologique, Vol. 1, pp. 161-78.
3 Ball, Benjamin (1869), Des arthropathies consécutives à l'ataxie locomotrice progressive. Journal: Med. Times & Gaz.London, v. xlii (pp. 226; 230; 234; 238; 242).
4 Charcot, Jean-Martin (1866), Douleurs fulgurantes de l'ataxie sans incoordination des mouvements, sclérose commençante des cordons postérieurs de la moelle épinière. Journal: Gazette médicale de Paris, 3rd series; 21: 122-124.
5 Ball, Benjamin (1890), Du délire des persécutions ou Maladie de Charles Lasègue. Paris: Asselin et Houzeau.

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