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PINEL, Philippe (1745–1826)

Traité médico-philosophique sur l'alienation mentale.
Seconde édition, entièrement refondue et très-augmentée.
Paris, chez J. Ant. Brosson, 1809.

The second definitive and best edition of this landmark work in the history of mental disorders. An absolutely wonderful copy, entirely untrimmed in the original pink wrappers, which is a variant of the normal blue and here with printed advertisements on both front and back wrappers for books for sale by the publishers. The noble-minded Philippe Pinel stands high in medical history as the first to treat the insane in a humane manner. He was destined for the Church, but decided to study medicine, and received his M. D. in 1773. After further studies at Montpellier he went to Paris in 1778. During this period he wrote a number of articles on medicine and translated medical works into French. Deeply moved by the death of a friend, who became insane and ran away to the forest and was devoured by wolves, Pinel resolved to devote himself to the study of mental diseases and soon attained such proficiency that he became physician in 1793 to the Hospice de Bicêtre, a hospital for the insane. He found many patients chained and treated like beasts, often being exhibited to curious people, who paid an admission fee to see the spectacle. On May 24, 1798, one of the most dramatic moments in the history of medicine, Pinel, at the risk of his own life and liberty, removed the chains from forty-nine of the poor unfortunates and introduced human treatment of the patients, an event commemorated in both paintings and popular prints. His experience with the insane are described in his Traité médico-philosophique, first published in 1801, a book which Garrison calls “one of the most important medical classics.” After two years at Bicêtre, Pinel was called as chief physician to the Salpetrière, the famous hospital where female patients were kept, a post he retained for the rest of his life. There he was in charge of 5000 pensioners, aged women, and chronically ill; there was a 600-bed-ward for the mentally ill. Pinel did not consider the first edition of his book adequate and worked it over entirely and published a revised edition in 1809, supplemented with respect to new observations at the Salpetrière.

Collation: Pp (4), xxxii, 496. Two folding letterpress tables and 2 engraved plates. Entirely untrimmed in the original wrappers with both front and back wrappers full of printed advertisements about books available from J. A. Brosson et J. S. Chaudé, booksellers and publishers in Paris. Printed spine label.

Binding: Preserved in a black cloth box.

Provenance: Haskell Norman’s copy with his bookplate.

References: Garrison-Morton 4922 (first ed 1801); Norman 1703 (this copy); Hunter & MacAlpine, pp 602-610; DSB, X, 611-14; Garrison, History, p 414; Major, History, pp 651-52; Lilly Library 155 (first ed.); Alexander & Selesnick, The History of Psychiatry, pp 112-15; Zilboorg, History of Medical Psychology, pp 319-41. Waller 7456 (only the first edition, 1801).

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