Charcot and the Salpetrière

21 October 2011 | , ,

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.

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