Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Chained and unchained – psychiatry in history

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 December 2020

Rights & Permissions[Opens in a new window]

Abstract

Image of the first page of this article
Type
Extras
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Although Philippe Pinel (1745–1826) made significant contributions to nosology and research methodology, he was a clinician at heart and is universally acclaimed today for the humanitarian reforms he introduced in mental healthcare, symbolised by the dramatic act of striking off chains. But Pinel's unchaining was, at first, judiciously implemented and far from indiscriminate. He lived through troubled times where revolutionary fervour in France had given way to the excesses of The Reign of Terror. The Bicêtre Hospital under his direction was (correctly) suspected of harbouring ‘Enemies of the Revolution’, priests and returned émigrés masquerading as lunatics; but it was also suspected of confining sane prisoners of the Ancien Régime and labelling them mad. According to Pinel:

‘During a massacre in the prisons, brigands forced their way into the Bicêtre under the pretext of setting free some victims of the ancient tyranny…they went from ward to ward brandishing arms and interrogating detainees, passing over them if madness was obvious. But one of the secluded who was kept in chains, caught their attention with his bitter complaints. Wasn't it odious that he was kept in irons and confused with other madmen? He denied that one could reproach him with the least extravagance; it was, he added the most revolting injustice.’

‘The sight of those armed men with their confused shouting, faces illuminated with wine vapours, stirred up the patient's rage, who grabbed one of their sabres with a strong arm and began thrusting it from left to right, drawing blood; and if one hadn't been able to master him quickly, he would have avenged the whole of outraged humanity. That barbarous howling horde returned him to his ward and blushingly seemed to give way to the voice of justice and experience.’

Footnotes

Quotes from Pinel are taken from René Semelaigne, Les Grands Aliénistes Français, G.Steinheil, Paris, 1894, translated by myself.

Submit a response

eLetters

No eLetters have been published for this article.

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 45
Total number of PDF views: 25 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 28th December 2020 - 16th January 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Access
Hostname: page-component-77fc7d77f9-kstv4 Total loading time: 0.411 Render date: 2021-01-16T03:30:22.750Z Query parameters: { "hasAccess": "1", "openAccess": "0", "isLogged": "0", "lang": "en" } Feature Flags last update: Sat Jan 16 2021 03:01:11 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time) Feature Flags: { "metrics": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "peerReview": true, "crossMark": true, "comments": true, "relatedCommentaries": true, "subject": true, "clr": true, "languageSwitch": true, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true }

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Chained and unchained – psychiatry in history
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Chained and unchained – psychiatry in history
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Chained and unchained – psychiatry in history
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *