Il mondo color seppia delle isteriche fin de siècle

Liborio Di Battista


The hysterical in-patients at the Vieillesse Femme, the Charcot’s Salpêtrière in Paris at the end of the XIX century, saw the world as a sepia-coloured daguerreotype with some reddish glares. In this paper we look back to the history of hysterical amaurosis from Dalton’s colour blindness to the last words on Charcot’s Grande Hystérie at his birthday centenary congress in 1925, through Parinaud’s studies and the synthesis made by Gilles de la Tourette. Once again, this singular episode in the great history of hysteria shows how a clinical syndrome can be ‘constructed’ from its original cultural context , and demonstrates how difficult it can be to set apart the short-lived scientific object from the definitively stated when referring to a ‘scientific object’ like a disease.

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