Philippe Pinel

Philippe Pinel ( born April 20, 1745 in Jonquières in the Tarn, † October 25th 1826 in Paris) was a French psychiatrist and since 1794 senior physician at the Salpêtrière and sat there first by a medical treatment without coercion. To the training of psychiatry to science he acquired great merits, in addition also to the entire concept of the bio- pathological event.


The son of a country doctor came only on the theology and philosophy with 30 years of medical and studied in Toulouse, Montpellier and Paris. One of his major works was the philosophical nosography. His effort was aimed to establish a natural system for the individual diseases. He turned to psychology and took special interest in the mental illness. So he created an exact teaching of the sick at mental illness and psychiatry were the 19th century so that a new basis. Through his description of the clinical development of various mental disorders, it was possible to include the field of psychiatry into general medicine. He also brought about a fundamental reform of the " asylums " ( liberation of the insane from their chains ) and had a completely new approach in the treatment of the mentally ill. In 1792 he took over the management of the institution Bicêtre and 1795 a new department for mentally ill women in the Salpêtrière. The " insane " were now no longer treated as convicts, but as sick - Pinel's probably greatest merit. However, Pinel raises acting on criticism. Treatment methods such as ice-cold showers or the use of straitjackets still practiced from a large print on the mentally ill, they were not treated as gently as physically ill. The integration of the mentally disturbed people in the company was not seeking him. Later he became a consulting physician to the Emperor, member of the Academy of Sciences in 1804, and finally Knight of the Legion of Honour. On October 25, 1826 Pinel died in Paris of a cerebral hemorrhage. After Pinel of Pinelsweg in Hamburg- Barmbek -South is named.


Pinel and his student Jean -Etienne Esquirol established the French psychiatric tradition in the sense of traitement moral, that is, one dealing with the patient, which is characterized by political freedom, and the healing powers in the form of an original " primordial moral structure " in each individual are included and which need to stabilize from the outside. This concept of traitement moral is not comparable in all respects to the Moral treatment, whereas in Europe, from England and spread into the gentleness, affection and patience played an important role. Pinel is known to have freed the sick from their chains. This means of coercion have been replaced by straight jackets and similar methods. The traitement moral or moral regime called, was an example for the development of psychiatry in Europe. Some physical methods of treatment seem, however, from today's perspective very barbaric. Thus, Pinel put for example a the swivel chair treatment, immersion in cold water and starvation diets to shake the soul and for the deflection of the idee fixe.

Pinel laid a foundation for diagnosis in modern psychiatry, by joining the modern analytical thinking with the Hippocratic tradition. Philippe Pinel was medical director of the Hospice de Bicêtre and later also of the Hôpital de la Salpêtrière as a philanthropist from 1792. These two Internierungsanstalten took on Tangled, madmen and criminals. Before the revolutionary tribunals fled nobles and clerics in these institutions in Paris. - The paralyzed man jekobinische terror Couthon therefore inspected together with Pinel 1793, the Institute Bicêtre to here to search for hidden suspicious enemies of the people. Here there was the decisive discourse between the two, which meant the end of the treatment of the mentally ill with chains.

Pinel found in his prison experience that the conditions of accommodation characterize the sick and their behavior. He is closely associated with the image of the liberation of the insane from their chains. This myth of the Enlightenment lingered up to the present.

Pinel regarded as the founder of scientific psychiatry. With his concept of mania sans delire he broke with the tradition of the Enlightenment, to interpret mental disorders only as disorders of mental activity ( as suggested by the writings of John Locke and Étienne Bonnot de Condillac ). The development of his approach enabled the psychiatry in the 19th century, the subtle detection of mental disorders, even without the presence of severe intellectual disorders, such as changes in mood, drive and disorders that are today referred to as personality disorders or neuroses / neurotic disorders.

His pupil Esquirol developed the concept of " mania without delirium " continue to monomania doctrine.


The Life of Philippe Pinel was described in 1945 in the U.S. Short Stairway to Light. The film won an Oscar in 1946 for Best Short Film.