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Georges Gilles de la Tourette: The Man And His Times
AJ Lees, Rev. Neurol. (Paris), 1986, 142, 11, 808-816


Georges Albert Edouard Brutus Gilles de la Tourette (1857-1904), one of Charcot's favourite pupils and his self-appointed amaneunsis made several valuable contributions to medicine and literature. His most substantial achievements were in the study of hysteria and the medico-legal ramifications of hypnotism, but he was also a competent neuropsychiatrist with a particular interest in therapeutics. He was a dynamic, passionately outspoken man whose prodigious literary output reflected his own restless compulsions as well as the interests of his beloved chiefs Brouardel and Charcot. His love of Loudun, his ancestral home strongly influenced his subject matter which included a biography of Theophraste Renaudot and with his colleague Gabriel Legue a perceptive analysis of Soeur Jeanne des Agnes' account of her hysterical illness induced by her unrequited love for the Loudun priest Urbain Grandier.

In 1893 shortly after the tragic death of his young son and of his mentor Charcot, Gilles de la Tourette was shot by a deluded woman who had been a patient at the Salpetriere. Her claims that she had been hypnotised by Gilles de la Tourette against her will causing her to lose her sanity bore a macabre resemblance to the accusation of Soeur Jeanne des Agnes against Grandier. The bizarre episode became a "proces celebre" seeming superficially to vindicate the Nancy School's views that criminal suggestion was possible under hypnotism, a view Gilles de la Tourette had vehemently rejected. Despite his colorful life and varied achievements only an incomplete biographical account by his friend Paul le Gendre, a few informative obituaries and some caustic sketches by Leon Daudet exist.

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