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Books, Journals, New Media
October 15, 2003


Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.

JAMA. 2003;290(15):2069. doi:10.1001/jama.290.15.2069

In recent years Jean-Martin Charcot has received a great deal of scholarly attention. Feminists, art critics, cultural commentators, and medical historians have all considered his life and work. Claims have been made for Charcot's impact on late 19th-century culture, for example in the novels of Proust and Huysman and in the work of Symbolist painters. Students of Freud have examined Charcot to trace the influence he exercised on the young Sigmund. In conventional accounts, Freud is portrayed as transforming Charcot's tentative explanations of hysteria into the more sophisticated narrative of psychoanalysis. Opinions on the "Napoleon of the nerves," as Charcot was dubbed in his day, have ranged from seeing him as a pioneering clinician who highlighted the existence of hysteria in men, to dismissing him as a self-deluding charlatan who "created" his patients' symptoms.

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