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Jean-Martin Charcot

Jean-Martin Charcot

BornNovember 29 1825(1825-11-29)
DiedAugust 16 1893
Residence France
Nationality French
FieldNeurologist and professor of anatomical pathology

Jean-Martin Charcot (29 November 1825 – 16 August 1893) was a French neurologist and professor of anatomical pathology. His work greatly impacted the developing fields of neurology and psychology. He was nicknamed "the Napoleon of the neuroses".


Life and work

  Born in Paris, Charcot worked and taught at the famous Salpêtrière Hospital for thirty three years. His reputation as an instructor drew students from all over Europe. In 1882, he established a neurology clinic at Salpêtrière, which was the first of its kind in Europe.

Charcot's primary focus was neurology. He was the first to name and describe multiple sclerosis. He was also the first to describe a disorder known as Charcot joint or Charcot arthropathy, a degeneration of joint surfaces resulting from loss of proprioception. He researched the functions of different parts of the brain and the role of arteries in cerebral hemorrhage.

He was also one of the first to describe Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT). The announcement was made simultaneously with Pierre Marie of France (his resident) and Howard Henry Tooth of England. The disease is also sometimes called peroneal muscular atrophy.

In 1861 and 1862, Jean-Martin Charcot, with Alfred Vulpian, added more symptoms to James Parkinson's clinical description and then subsequently attached the name Parkinson's disease to the syndrome.

But Charcot's most enduring work is that on hypnosis and hysteria. Charcot believed that hysteria was a neurological disorder caused by hereditary problems in the nervous system. He used hypnosis to induce a state of hysteria in patients and studied the results, and was single-handedly responsible for changing the French medical community's opinion about the validity of hypnosis (it was previously rejected as Mesmerism).

His works about hypnosis and his public demonstrations of "hypnotized" persons in an auditorium were sharply criticized by Hippolyte Bernheim, a leading neurologist of the time, and by Charcot's former scientific assistant Axel Munthe in his famous memoirs The Story of San Michele.

Eponyms for Charcot

  • Charcot's artery (lenticulostriate artery)
  • Charcot's joint (diabetic arthropathy)
  • Charcot's disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (peroneal muscular atrophy)
  • Charcot Wilbrand syndrome (visual agnosia & loss of ability to revisualise images)
  • Charcot's intermittent hepatic fever (intermittent pain, intermittent fever, intermittent jaundice & loss of weight)
  • Charcot-Bouchard aneurysms (tiny aneurysms of the penetrating branches of middle cerebral artery in hypertensives)


Charcot is just as famous for his students: Sigmund Freud, Joseph Babinski, Pierre Janet, William James, Albert Londe, Georges Gilles de la Tourette, and Alfred Binet. Charcot bestowed the eponym for Tourette syndrome in honor of his student, Georges Gilles de la Tourette.

See also

  • Charcot's triad
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Jean-Martin_Charcot". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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