Jules Bernard Luys in Charcot's penumbra.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Front Neurol Neurosci, Volume 29, p.125-36 (2011)


Brain, History, 19th Century, History, 20th Century, Humans, Hypnosis, Hysteria, Neurology, Neuropsychiatry, Paris, Psychiatry


<p>Jules Bernard Luys (1828-1897) is a relatively unknown figure in 19th century French neuropsychiatry. Although greatly influenced by Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893), Luys worked in the shadow of the 'master of La Salpêtrière' for about a quarter of a century. When he arrived at this institution in 1862, he used microscopy and photomicrography to identify pathological lesions underlying locomotor ataxia and progressive muscular atrophy. He later made substantial contributions to our knowledge of normal human brain anatomy, including the elucidation of thalamic organization and the discovery of the subthalamic nucleus. Luys's name has long been attached to the latter structure (corps de Luys), which is at the center of our current thinking about the functional organization of basal ganglia and the physiopathology of Parkinson's disease. As head of the Maison de santé d'Ivry, Luys developed a highly original view of the functional organization of the normal human brain, while improving our understanding of the neuropathological and clinical aspects of mental illnesses. In 1886, Luys left La Salpêtrière and became chief physician at La Charité hospital. Following Charcot, whom he considered as the father of scientific hypnotism, Luys devoted the last part of his career to hysteria and hypnosis. However, Luys ventured too deeply into the minefield of hysteria. He initiated experiments as unconventional as the distant action of medication, and became one of the most highly caricatured examples of the fascination that hysteria exerted upon neurologists as well as laypersons at the end of the 19th century.</p>

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