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Philippe Pinel

Philippe PinelBorn: 20-Apr-1745
Birthplace: Saint-André, France
Died: 25-Oct-1826
Location of death: Paris, France
Cause of death: Pneumonia
Remains: Buried, Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France

Gender: Male
Religion: Christian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Psychiatrist, Doctor

Nationality: France
Executive summary: Unchained the insane

French physician Philippe Pinel studied literature and theology before switching to medicine, and after earning his doctorate he supported himself for several years by caring for mentally ill patients. Since there was little money in such work, Pinel augmented his income by translating scientific texts and offering tutoring in anatomy and mathematics. He was named superintendent of the Bicêtre Insane Asylum in Paris in 1792, where he introduced the then-radical notion of treating these patients with human dignity. In his time, mental derangement was seen by physicians and the general public as a sign of demonic possession, and patients were routinely held in irons for their entire lives. Pinel had a more liberal view, believing mental illness to be caused by a variety of factors including societal stress, psychological damage, physical conditions, and heredity.

Taking charge at the all-male Bicêtre asylum, he promptly had the residents unshackled, ended the practice of displaying patients to the public for an admission charge, and halted the asylum's routine regimen of bleeding, blistering, and purging patients. Instead he introduced what was called "moral therapy", in which staff and patients interact as normally as possible, patients are involved in discussions of their problems, and patient activities are designed to foster social skills and self-control. Pinel's unchaining of the lunatics was widely reported in media and commemorated in paintings, making him a national celebrity. After two years and great success at the Bicêtre asylum, he took charge at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, a 5,000-patient general hospital with a 600-bed women's asylum, where he enacted similar reforms. At the hospital and at the university in Paris, Pinel taught the next generation of specialists in mental diseases, including his son, who became a leading expert on the subject.

Though he is now considered a founder of modern psychiatry, in his own time Pinel was perhaps more respected as an authority on internal medicine, for his Nosographie Philosophique (Philosophical Classification of Diseases), published in 1798. He also established one of France's first inoculation clinics at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, in 1799. Pinel attended the execution of Louis XVI, served as personal physician for Napoleon Bonaparte, and met with Benjamin Franklin when the famous American of the time came to France.

Father: Philippe Francois Pinel (barber-physician, b. 1716, d. 1793)
Mother: Élisabeth Dupuy Pinel (b. 1722, d. 1757)
Brother: Charles Pinel (physician)
Brother: Pierre-Louis Pinel (physician)
Wife: Jeanne Vincent Pinel (m. 1792, d. 1811)
Son: Cahrles Pinel (attorney, b. 1802)
Son: Scipio Pinel (physician)
Wife: Marie-Madeleine Jacquelin-Lavallée Pinel (m. 1815)

    High School: Lavour School, Lavaur, France
    University: Collège Les Clauzades, Lavaur, France
    Medical School: MD, Collège de l'Esquille, Toulouse (1773)
    Teacher: Medical Pathology, University of Paris (1794-95)
    Professor: Medical Pathology, University of Paris (1795-1826)

    Asylum de Bicêtre Superintendent (1792-94)
    Hospice de la Salpêtrière Superintendent (1794-1826)
    French Academy of Medicine 1820
    French Academy of Sciences 1804
    French Legion of Honor 1804
    French Ancestry

Author of books:
Nosographie Philosophique (Philosophical Classification of Diseases) (1798)
Traité Médico-Philosophique sur l’Aliénation Mentale ou la Manie (Medico-Philosophical Treatise on Mental Alienation or Mania) (1801)


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