Esquirol, Jean-étienne-Dominique

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Esquirol, Jean-étienne-Dominique


Born Feb. 3, 1772, in Toulouse; died Dec. 12, 1840, in Paris. French physician. One of the founders of scientific psychiatry.

Esquirol received his medical education in Toulouse and Montpellier. He became an assistant to P. Pinel in 1796. In 1800, Esquirol opened the first private clinic for mental patients in Paris. He took up a position at Salpêtriére Hospital in 1811. In 1817 he introduced the systematic teaching of psychiatry into the medical curriculum. Esquirol became a professor and inspector general of the medical faculty of the University of Paris in 1823. From 1825 until his death he served as chief physician of the psychiatric clinic in Charenton, near Paris.

Esquirol was a pioneer of clinical nosology in psychiatry (seeNOSOLOGY). His main work, On Mental Disorders (1838), was the first scientific handbook for psychiatrists and marked the first attempt to classify mental disorders. Esquirol was the author of the theory of monomania (isolated, single-object mania) and described intellectual, instinctive, affective, and other monomanias. In 1817 he distinguished between hallucinations and illusions. He introduced into psychiatry the concepts of congenital and acquired feeblemindedness and the concept of remission.

Esquirol worked out principles for examining mental patients and, in 1838, took part in the drafting of a law protecting the rights and interests of the mentally ill. He helped improve the care given to mental patients in hospitals and organized near Paris the first colony for the mentally ill. He was a vigorous advocate of humane treatment for mental patients. Esquirol was the founder of a school of psychiatry.


Des Maladies mentales considérées sous les rapports medical, hygiénique, et médico-légal, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1838.


Kannabikh, Iu. Istoriia psikhiatrii. [Moscow] 1929.
Morozov, V. M. O sovremennykh napravleniiakh v zarubezhnoi psikhiatrii i ikh ideinykh istokakh. Moscow, 1961.
Semelaigne, R. Les Pionniers de la psychiatrie française avant et aprés Pinel, vol. 1. Paris, 1930. Pages 124–40.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.