Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-93) was a pioneering French neurologist and psychologist born in Paris. His work has had a lasting impact in both of those fields, to the extent that he’s been called the “Napoleon of the neuroses.”
Charcot worked at the widely respected Salpêtrière teaching clinic in Paris where he made important contributions to neurology. He’s best known, however, for his groundbreaking work on hypnotism and is often mentioned as one of Sigmund Freud‘s early instructors. Charcot’s studies on hysteria fascinated Freud, who in turn developed his own theory of hysteria.
Paving the way for a more biologically based type of psychiatry, Charcot discovered that brain damage to certain regions of the cerebral cortex are linked to speech impairment and epilepsy. This supported the seminal work of the French physician, Paul Broca, suggesting that different parts of the body are controlled by correspondingly different regions of the cerebral cortex.
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