Jean Martin Charcot

Charcot took an interest in the malady then called hysteria. It seemed to be a mental disorder with physical manifestations, of immediate interest to a neurologist. He believed that hysteria was the result of a weak neurological system which was hereditary. It could be set off by a traumatic event like an accident, but was then progressive and irreversible. To study the hysterics under his care, he learned the technique of hypnosis and soon became a master of the relatively new “science.” Charcot believed that a hypnotized state was very similar to a bout of hysteria, and so he hypnotized his patients in order to induce and study their symptoms. He did not plan to cure them by hypnosis — in fact, he felt that only hysterics could be hypnotized. He would hypnotize patients for groups of students and others, gaining the nickname “the Napoleon of the neuroses.”
Among Charcot’s students were Alfred Binet, Pierre Janet, and Sigmund Freud. They were impressed with Charcot and went on to use hypnosis in their own way, but disagreed with their teacher that it was a neurological phenomenon. They considered the hypnotic state a psychological one. ‘
Taken from A Science odyssey: People and Discoveries Acessed 31.01.10

I have recently read parts of a book written by Georges Didi-Huberman and originally published in 1982 called: ‘Invention of Hysteria – Charcot and the
Photographic Iconography of the Salpetriere’, here is an extract:
…’Is the treatment of hysteria at risk-at the risk of charm?
A charm, yes. In the hell of the Salpetriere, hysterics incessantly made eyes at their physicians. It was
a kind of law of the genre, not only a law of hysterical fantasy (its desire to captivate), but the law of the
institution of the asylum itself. And I would say that this institution was structured as a bribe: in fact, every
hysteric had to make a regular show of her orthodox “hysterical nature” (love of colors, “looseness,” erotic
ecstasies, and so forth) to avoid being transfered to the severe “division” of the quite simple and so-called
incurable “alienated women.”
Seduction was thus a forced tactic, Hell-Salpetriere weighing and distributing its poor souls to more or
less appalling circles, of which the Service of Hysterics, with its “experimental” component, was like an annex of
The bribe went something like this: either you seduce me (showing yourself in this way to be hysterical),
or else I will consider you to be an incurable, and then you will no longer be exhibited but hidden away, for ever,
in the dark.
For the hysterics, seducing consisted in always further reassuring their physicians by confirming their
concept of Hysteria. Seducing was thus also, reciprocally a technique of scientific mastery, everyone making an
effort (an enormous energy) for his or her own dispossession, in word and body. For the hysteric, seducing was
perhaps having the Master at her beck and call-but she could only lead him to be the master to a still greater extent.
In a strange reversal, the hysteric’s seduction did an even cruler violence to herself where her own identity, already
so unhapy, was concerned.
Thus hysteria at the salpetriere was always being aggravated, always becoming more demonstrative, in high
colors, always even more subjected to scenarios (this was the case untill the time of Charcot’s death). A kind of
masochistic fantasy was in full swing, functioning according to its demonstrative trait (making oneself be seen suffering),
and according to its distinguished character of a act, and of connivance, too.
(“Connivance: connivere: means at one and at the same time: I wink, I blink, I close my eyes.”)
And this connivance, although a constraint, was an almost amorous relation, because charm was at work,
and was even the effective, efficient (if illusory) motor of the whole operation.’ p.p.170-171

Gazes and Tact
A terrible charm, the, went on repeating itself.
How? Charm is a ruse of visibility: a certain hysteric pretend to constitute the whole object of
psychiatric knowledge and scoptophillia, [Scopophilia or scoptophilia, from Greek "love of looking", is deriving pleasure from looking.
As an expression of sexuality, it refers to sexual pleasure derived from looking at erotic objects: erotic photographs, pornography, naked bodies, etc.
Alternatively, this term was used by cinema psychoanalysts of the 1970s to describe pleasures (often considered pathological[1]) and other unconscious processes occurring in spectators when they watch films. The term was borrowed from psychoanalytic theories of Jacques Lacan.[2] wikipedia accessed 07.02.10] in poses and in photographs. And she believed it. The charm was reciprocal:
the physician made the attitudes passionelles of “his” hysteric into a masterpiece, the living image 
of a nosological concept, and he practically glorified it, as an image. Charm was the photogrpaher’s birdie. [...]
In any case, it is through the photographic medium that the hysterical women offered herself, in an exemplary fashion,
to be touched in the most subtle and most exquisite of contacts.
Yet the Iconographie photographique de la Saletriere was, in a sense, a negation of tact, of contact. The utmost was done to fabricate the semblance of the “life”,” and thus the independence, of the image;
from plate to plate, the hysterics seem to frolic freely in their fantasies or phantasmagorias, and I do mean “seem.”
Planche” suggests to me, moreover, that there were still procedures for posing: platforms, discreet yokes,
boxes for framing the image. The Iconographie de la Salpetrier does not show the way the hysterics were
touched, and that “it” happened by itself (just as Marey tied up his birds to “chronophotograph” their flight in a veritable
tromel’oeil of departure).
There was an illusion of a neutral distance, of a gaze that does not touch (but this shortened, almost tactile
distance between camera and subject is no less material than the exposure time).
One must not forget that the clinical gaze and its “beautiful sensibility” were wholly dominated by an incurable
metaphor of tact, -nor that touching the hysteric was, from time immemorial, the only way of eliciting
a response from her.
And I am not only referring to Galen or Ambroise Pare. In 1859, Briquet was still arguing against certain methods
for terminating hysterical attacks, meaning that they were still in use. Briquet goes as far as to provide examples of their
efficacy (but he was making a slightly different point: he was arguing against a concept of hysteria that was in fact
grounded in the efficacy of such methods). Uterine compressions, all kinds of “confrications of the genital areas,”
masturbating them-let’s face it-until they could take no more (an extenuated, exuding hysteric is pacified), and even
perscriptions for coitus. Briquet had tried all pf these, of course, but he said they did not work. Perhaps his heart was not
really in it. In any case, Briquet admits his disgust for practices that he judges, and rightly so, far from “innocent.”
Charcot revived the tradition, to a certain extent. He had no qualms about plunging his fist into a hysteric’s
groin, nor about instrumentalizing the so-called ovarian compression or prescribing the cauterization of the uterine neck,
in certaing cases. He condemed the hysterectomy as a treatment specific to hysteria, but was in this sense avant-garde,
for hysterectomies continued to be practiced despite Charcot, throughout the nineteenth centure.
Tact became torture. Speculum-scalpel, cauterization. How dare I relate it to a dialectic of charm?
That is precisely the question: the paradox of atrocity. And the movement I am interogating is the following:
how the relation between a physician and his patient, in a hospice of four thousand incurable bodies, how this relation,
which, in principle, was nearly the only one besides marriage to authorize and even institute the fondling of
bodies- how this relation could become servitude, property, torment. How did the patient’s body come to belong to the body of medicine, and how could this dispossession take place within what hysteria itself obliges us to call
a charmMy hypothesis bears on the mediating function of the image and the fabrication of images, in the paradoxical
movement from tact to torment via charm. But the paradox remains insistient: how could a body become an experimental, experimentable object for another, simply because it was suited to the making of an image, and why
would this body have consented , 
to this extent? The word “consent” is quite strong. consenting is loving, in a
sense, loving madly, and the hysterics at the Salpetriere truly consented to extraordinary stagings, with a major
semblance of desire.” p.p.p. 175,176,177

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