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Étienne-Jean Georget (2 April 1795[1] – 14 May 1828[2]) was a French psychiatrist. He is known for writing on monomania. He is also the pioneer of forensic psychiatry, and was the first psychiatrist to discuss the defence of insanity to criminal charges.[citation needed]



Georget was born in Vernou-sur-Brenne (Indre-et-Loire), into a poor farming family. He was poorly educated, which he felt handicapped his career.[3]

He studied medicine in Tours, then in Paris where he was a student of Philippe Pinel and Jean-Étienne Dominique Esquirol. From 1815 he worked at the Salpêtrière hospital.[3] In 1820 he attained fame with his book De la folie ("On insanity").

Georget specialized in psychopathology. He refined and clarified Pinel's nosology of mental illnesses. He distinguished several types of monomania such as "theomania" (religious obsession), "erotomania" (sexual obsession), "demonomania" (obsession with evil) and "homicidal monomania" (obsession with murder). He also held the view that it is possible for criminals to be held legally responsible for their crimes by reason of insanity.[4]

Georget ridiculed the idea of the uterine origin of hysteria and maintained that it was a disease of men as well as women.[5]

He was a member of the Académie Nationale de Médecine and of the Medical Society of London.

The theoretical work of Georget was influential[citation needed] in establishing the view that 19th century writers of romantic fiction took of the insane and of criminals.

Georget died of pulmonary tuberculosis at the age of 33.

The Géricault portraitsEdit

In the early 1820s, he commissioned Théodore Géricault, a former patient, to paint a series of portraits so that his students could study the facial traits of "monomaniacs", as he preferred using such images to having patients in the classroom. Between 1821 and 1824, Géricault created ten paintings, of which five have survived.[6] They include those of a kidnapper,[7] a gambling addict,[6] and a woman "consumed with envy".[8] The most famous is Portrait of a kleptomaniac.



A more complete list can be found in Semelaigne.[12]

Dictionary articles (selection)Edit


  • Foucault, Michel. "L'évolution de la notion d'"individu dangereux" dans la psychiatrie légale". Déviance et société. 1981, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 403–422 doi:10.3406/ds.1981.1098. (Foucault finds it strange that people who have confessed to their crimes are nevertheless asked to provide a rationale for them—that poses a problem for the insane who are sure about the facts but unsure about the motives.[18])
  • Kern, Stephen. A cultural history of causality (esp. p. 247)
  • Micale, Mark S. Hysterical men: the hidden history of male nervous illness, p. PA65, at Google Books. 2008, pp. 65–68. ISBN 9780674031661
  • Postel, Jacques. Eléments pour une histoire de la psychiatrie occidentale. 2007 ISBN 9782296184916
  • Semelaigne, René. "Georget (Etienne-Jean)", Les pionniers de la psychiatrie française avant et après Pinel, vol. 1, p. 188. 1930
  1. ^ Postel (2007), p. 221
  2. ^ Postel (2007), p. 222
  3. ^ a b Semelaigne, p. 188 ‹See Tfd›(in French)
  4. ^ For a short account of Georget's ideas on that point, see Semelaigne, p. 194
  5. ^ Micale (2008), p. 65
  6. ^ a b "Regard sur la folie".
  7. ^ Théodore Géricault | The Madman Kidnapper,
  8. ^ "Regard sur la folie".
  9. ^ On Papavoine see Louis-Auguste Papavoine – 1825. ‹See Tfd›(in French)
  10. ^ On Antoine Léger, a case of vampirism, see PDF ‹See Tfd›(in French)
  11. ^ Cornier was guillotined for decapitating her employers' young daughter. Esquirol and Georget thought she was not responsible for reason of insanity. See also Michu, Jean-Louis. La monomanie homicide, à propos du meurtre commis par Henriette Cornier, p. PA33, at Google Books (1826)
  12. ^ "BIU Santé -".
  13. ^ "Dictionnaire de médecine. Tome 6, COP-DIG / , par MM. Adelon, Béclard, (etc.)". Gallica.
  14. ^ "Dictionnaire de médecine. Tome 9, FIE-GAL / , par MM. Adelon, Béclard, (etc.)". Gallica.
  15. ^ "Dictionnaire de médecine. Tome 11, HEM-HYS / , par MM. Adelon, Béclard, (etc.)". Gallica.
  16. ^ "Dictionnaire de médecine. Tome 15, N-ORP / , par MM. Adelon, Béclard, (etc.)". Gallica.
  17. ^ Vol. 6 (COP-DIG), 9 (FIE–GAL), 11 (HEM–HYS), 15 (N–ORP) respectively
  18. ^ There is an error in the document (p. 405): the date was not 1927.