Laura Gonzalez


21 Oct 2011

Charcot and the Salpetrière

In the Nineteenth Century, Doctor Charcot worked at the Salpetrière in Paris, a hospital dedicated to treat hysteric women through hypnosis and other like treatments.

Charcot’s Tuesday lectures were very famous and well attended and Brouillet’s painting shows what was then named ‘La Grande Hysterique’ (believed to be a patient called Blanche Wittmann). Watch her and remember her, for something of her will return to my writing on this blog.


Freud had a print of this painting in his study in his house in London (now a museum). You can see it is placed above the couch.


These are some of the sources I have been exploring, especially the first book, Georges Didi-Huberman’s The Invention of Hysteria, around how Charcot used photography to enhance the performativity of the illness. For both doctor and patient performed for each other, believe me (and remember Brouillet).


I encountered these books during my study of seduction (my PhD), so I cannot say that this constitutes a new project. It is a tangential strand, a free association of some elements of my PhD.

Posted in Blog, Hysteria, Psychoanalysis, Reading

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About Me

I am an artist and writer. My recent practice performance, film, dance, photography and text, and my work has been performed, exhibited and published in many venues in Europe and the US. I have spoken at numerous conferences and events, including the Museum for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Medical Museum in Copenhagen, College Arts Association and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. When I am not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with my camera or creating performance works as part of my Athenaeum Research Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I teach postgraduate students at Transart Institute.

I am currently immersed in an interdisciplinary project exploring knowledge and the body of the hysteric. In 2013, together with Child and Adolescent Mental Health practitioner Frances Davies, I co-edited the book ‘Madness, Women and the Power of Art’, to which I contributed a work authored with Eleanor Bowen. My book ‘Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces’ was published by Cambridge Scholars in 2016. In this text, investigates psychoanalytic approaches to making and understanding objects of seduction, including an examination of parallels between artistic and analytic practices, a study of Manolo Blahnik’s shoes as objects of desire, a disturbing encounter with Marcel Duchamp’s last work, and the creation of a psychoanalytically inspired Discourse of the Artefact, a framework enabling the circulation of questions and answers through a relational approach to artworks.