Georges Gilles de la TouretteBeyond the Eponym

Georges Gilles de la TouretteBeyond the Eponym

Olivier Walusinski

Print publication date: Oct 2018

ISBN: 9780190636036

Publisher: Oxford University Press


An exhaustive biography of French neuropsychiatrist Georges Gilles de la Tourette (1857–1904) has never been undertaken. Gilles de la Tourette worked closely with the nineteenth-century founder of neurology in Paris, Jean-Martin Charcot. His name is universally known because of the eponymous, disabling syndrome that affects 0.9% of children/adolescents. Unpublished family archives, as well as Gilles de la Tourette’s correspondence with the Parisian journalist Georges Montorgueil, conserved at the national Archives in Paris, were examined together with press and police archives to portray Georges Gilles de la Tourette’s family and professional life in an original light. These archives have never before been studied or made available to the public. How the eponymous syndrome was isolated, the errors initially made in its description, the hidden role of Jean-Martin Charcot, and the disputes with other authors are covered in detail based on multiple sources, original or already published. An in-depth analysis of the genesis of Gilles de la Tourette’s prolific neurological and psychiatric works within their historical context rounds out this biography. Major figures of neurology of the time are also featured—including Freud, Charcot and his son, Brissaud, and Babiński. Interwoven with Gilles de la Tourette’s life and times are discussions of politics, theater, literature, the 1900 Paris World’s Fair, and numerous letters exchanged with Jules Claretie of the Académie Française to highlight his significant involvement in each of these domains. The book concludes with a complete bibliography of all works written by Gilles de la Tourette, compiled for the first time.