Journal : Revue photographique des hôpitaux de Paris ; vol. 3.
Paris : Adrien Delahaye, 1871.
Description : 193-203 p., [2 l. pl.] ; ill.: 2 photo. ; 24.5 cm.
Photographs : 2 mounted albumens.
Subject : Contracture — Somatoform disorders.
A ce propos, Messieurs, je ne puis pas ne point m'arrêter un instant devant ces guérisons rapides, inespérées souvent, d'un mal qui pendant si longtemps se sera fait remarquer par sa ténacité et par sa résistance à tous les agents thérapeutiques. Une émotion morale vive, un ensemble d'événements qui frappent fortement l'imagination, la réapparition des règles depuis longtemps supprimées, etc., sont fréquemment l'occasion de ces promptes guérisons.
Report of a lecture which Charcot gave at Salpêtrière in June 1870 on the differential diagnosis of contracture in the young female subject. Two women were examined during the lecture, one a hemiplegic, the other a paraplegic, both cases representative of paralysis associated with a somatoform disorder. Charcot discusses the difficulty of distinguishing contracture permanente from contractures derived of spinal lesions, in particular those caused by multiple sclerosis. Both of his subjects also suffered from urinary retention and insensibility of the affected limbs, symptoms which could easily fool the clinician into diagnosing an underlying organic disease. Only by chloroforming the patient could the physician discover whether or not the paralysis was psychogenic, in which case the symptoms would disappear, or neurogenic and progressive. In later studies Charcot was able to use hypnosis with the same effect. Motivated by the landmark study of l'hysterie written by Briquet in 1859,1 Charcot dedicated himself during the 1870's to the work of classifying conversion disorders and dispelling the belief among physicians that only women were susceptible. Bourneville included Charcot's observations from this lecture in a bibliographical study of traumatic contracture which he co-authored with Paul Volet the following year and it is more than likely that he was the transcriber for this printing in the Revue.2
1 Briquet, Paul (1859), Traité clinique et thérapeutique de l'hystérie. Paris: Adrien Delahaye.
2 Bourneville, Désiré Magloire & Voulet, Paul (1872), De la contracture hystérique permanente. Paris: Adrien Delahaye.