Philippe Pinel

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Pinel, Philippe

(fēlēp` pēnĕl`), 1745–1826, French physician, M.D. Univ. of Toulouse, 1773. After moving to Paris in 1778, he was appointed (1793) director of the Bicêtre hospital and shortly thereafter of the Salpêtrière. His Traité médico-philosophique sur l'aliénation mentale (2d ed. 1809), based on observations in both these hospitals, advocated humane treatment of mentally ill persons, then called the insane, and a more empirical study of mental disease. He further contributed to the development of psychiatry through his establishment of the practice of keeping well-documented psychiatric case histories for research.

Pinel, Philippe


Born Apr. 20, 1745, in Saint André d’Alayrac, Languedoc; died Oct. 25, 1826, in Paris. French physician, founder of scientific psychiatry in France. Member of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1803).

Pinel studied in the physics and mathematics faculty of the University of Toulouse, earning a doctorate in 1773; he then, in 1774, enrolled in the medical faculty of the University of Montpellier. After graduation, he worked in Paris as an internist. In 1789, Pinel published Nosographie philosophique, in which he substantiated the necessity of developing medicine, as well as other natural sciences, on the basis of the analytical method. While chief physician at Bicêtre, an asylum and hospital near Paris for the aged, invalids, and the mentally ill, he succeeded in obtaining permission from the National Convention in 1793 to carry out reforms with respect to the care of the mentally ill. The mentally afflicted were released from chains and handcuffs and placed under a hospital regimen; they were seen regularly by physicians and provided various treatments and work therapy. The scientifically based rules established by Pinel for the care of the mentally ill were soon accepted by all European psychiatrists.

In 1794, Pinel was appointed to the chair of medical physics and hygiene in the newly established Ecole de Santé in Paris, and in 1795 to the chair of internal diseases and psychiatry. In 1806 he was appointed consultant at the court of Napoleon I. Pinel devised a classification of mental diseases based on the theory and practice of psychiatry. He was the founder of a large school of psychiatrists, whose adherents included J. Esquirol.


In Russian translation:
Mediko-filosofskoe uchenie o dushevnykh bolezniakh. St. Petersburg, 1899.


Reitts, G. V. “Pinel’ i ego vremia: K 100-letiiu ego smerti, 1826-1926.” Obozrenie psikhiatrii, nevrologii i refleksologii, 1927, no. 1.
Kannabikh, Iu. V. Istoriia psikhiatrii. [Moscow] 1929.
Rubakin, A. N. “Filipp Pinel’ i Frantsuzskaia revoliutsiia 1789 goda.” Zhurnal nevropatologii i psikhiatrii, 1956, vol. 56, issue 12.
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