The Father Of Multiple Sclerosis

Dr. Jean Martin Charcot: (1825 - 1893)
Pathologist, one of the founders of Neurology, born in Paris. He worked at the Salpêtrière, and had Sigmund Freud among his pupils. He contributed much to the knowledge of Chronic and Nervous Diseases and made Hypnotism a scientific study.

In 1868, he made the first diagnosis of MS and the Clinico-Pathological definition stated by Dr. Jean Martin Charcot still holds today:

"On Histological Sections, Multiple Sclerosis lesions contain Perivascular Inflammation and DeMyelination. Plaques occur anywhere within the White Matter of the Central Nervous System. Lesions in these locations often correlate with clinical symptoms.

In the Cerebral Hemispheres PeriVentricular distribution of Plaques is often seen. When Plaques are adjacent to the Cortex, SubCortical Myelinated Nerves are often spared.

Plaques located near the Gray Matter, may spread into the Gray Matter, including Deep Nuclei and the Cortex. Axons are spared within the initial Lesions, but are later destroyed."

These features still remain as pathological hallmarks of Multiple Sclerosis.

He was the first person to scientificially describe Multiple Sclerosis and its classic clinical symptoms are today known as Charcot's Triad: (Nystagmus, Intention Tremor, & Scanning Speech).

The way joints deteriorate in some types of Nervous Disease was named after him (Charcot's Joint).

He had one son, Jean Baptiste Charcot.

Jean Baptiste Charcot (Etienne Auguste) 1867 - 1936
Explorer, born in Neuilly, France, he commanded two Antarctic expeditions in the Français (1903 - 5) and Pourquoi Pas? (1908 - 1910), and after World War 1 carried out hydrographic surveys off Greenland.

He later went down with the Pourquoi Pas? off Iceland.

Charcot & The Myth Of Misogyny

Christopher G. Goetz, MD
Neurology 1999;52:1678
Rush University, Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, IL.
UI# 10331699


To evaluate Jean-Martin Charcot's attitudes toward women and evaluate contemporary and modern accusations of Misogyny.

Review of original documents from the Bibliothèque Charcot, archives of the Sorrel-Dejerine and Leguay families, and materials from the Académie de Médecine, Paris.

Several lines of evidence demonstrate that Charcot, although highly authoritarian and patronizing toward patients and colleagues in general, fostered the concepts of advancing women in the medical profession and eliminating former gender biases in neurologic disorders.

The first woman extern in Paris, Blanche Edwards, worked directly under Charcot, and he later became her thesis advisor. When women lobbied for entrance rights to the intern competition, Charcot was one of the few professors to sign the original petition of support.

Charcot worked extensively with hysteria and female patients, although he energetically rejected the idea that the disorder was restricted to women. He categorically deplored ovariectomy as a treatment for women with hysteria. His most important scientific contribution in the study of hysteria was his identification of the disorder in men.

Although overtly apolitical throughout his life and certainly not a feminist in the modern definition of the term, Charcot worked to incorporate women professionally into Neurology.

Charcot also advanced areas of women's health through his long-term commitment to work in a largely women's hospital (the Salpêtrière), and dispelled the prejudice that Hysteria was a woman's malady.

Neurology 52 May 1999
Copyright © 1999: All rights reserved by The American Academy of Neurology.

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