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Charles Bonnet's Description of Cotard's Delusion and Reduplicative Paramnesia in an Elderly Patient (1788)

  • Hans Förstl (a1) and Barbara Beats (a2)


An elderly woman developed the delusion that she was dead (‘Cotard's delusion’) and that she was in another place (‘reduplicative paramnesia’). Charles Bonnet reported this unique combination of symptoms a century before Cotard's influential description of the nihilistic delusions and of Pick's description of ‘reduplicative paramnesia’.


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Beats, B. (1989) Visual hallucinations as the presenting symptom of dementia – a variant of the Charles Bonnet syndrome? International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 4, 197201.
Benson, D. F., Gardner, H. & Meadows, J. C. (1976) Reduplicative paramnesia. Neurology, 26, 147151.
Bonnet, C. (1769) Essai Analytique sur les Facultes de L'ame (2nd edn, Vol. II, 176 177). Copenhagen and Geneva.
Cotard, J. (1882) Du Delire des Negations. Archives du Neurologie Paris, 4, 152 170, 282–296. Translated by M. Rohde (1974) Nihilistic delusions. In Themes and Variations of European Psychiatry (eds Shepherd, M. & Hirsch, S.). Bristol: Wright.
Enoch, M. D. & Trethowan, W. H. (1979) Uncommon Psychiatric Symptoms, pp. 116133. Bristol: John Wright and Sons Ltd.
Förstl, H., Angermeyer, M. & Howard, R. (1991a) Karl Philipp Moritz’ Journal of Empirical Psychology (1783–1793): an analysis of 124 case reports. Psychological Medicine, 21, 299304.
Förstl, H., Almeida, O. P., Owen, A., et al (1991b) Psychiatric, neurological and medical aspects of misidetification: a review of 260 cases. Psychological Medicine, 21, 905910.
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Joseph, A. B. (1986) Cotard's syndrome in a patient with coexistent Capgras' syndrome, syndrome of subjective doubles, and palinopsia. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 47, 605606.
Kapur, N., Turner, A. & King, C. (1988) Reduplicative paramnesia: possible anatomical and neuropsychological mechanisms. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 51, 579581.
Moritz, K. P., Pockels, C. F. & Maimon, S. (eds 1783–1793) Gnothi Sauton oder Magazin zur Erfahrungsseelenkunde als ein Lesebuch für Gelehrte und Ungelehrte. Berlin: August Mylius. (Trans, of vol. 1 H. Förstl & R. Howard (1992) History of Psychiatry (in press).)
Pick, A. (1903) Clinical studies. III. On reduplicative paramnesia. Brain, 26, 242267.
Schmidt, G. (1940) A review of the German literature on delusion between 1914 and 1939. In The Clinical Roots of the Schizophrenia Concept (1987; eds Cutting, J. & Shepherd, M.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Seglas, J. (1897) La Delire de Negation. Vol. I. Paris: Masson.

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Charles Bonnet's Description of Cotard's Delusion and Reduplicative Paramnesia in an Elderly Patient (1788)

  • Hans Förstl (a1) and Barbara Beats (a2)


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