Who is Philippe Pinel?

Who is Philippe Pinel?

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

Philippe Pinel was a famous French medical doctor who lived from 1745 to 1826. He was born on April 20, 1745, in the town of Saint-André in the Tarn county, and died on October 25, 1826, in Paris.


Philippe Pinel was a pioneer of contemporary psychiatry, with a scientific and humanistic approach to the treatment of mental illness.

Although Pinel was the child of a family that raised many doctors and surgeons from both his mother’s and father’s side, he focused all his attention on literature and philosophy in his early youth.

In 1767, he began his theology studies at the University of Toulouse. However, two years later, he lost his will and enrolled in the medical faculty of the same university and received his doctorate from there in 1773.

After gaining experience by working in various hospitals in Montpellier for four years, he settled in Paris in 1778. However, since he did not graduate from the Paris Faculty of Medicine, he was not given the right to practice medicine in this city.

Pinel, who was influenced by the sensory teachings of Locke and Condillac during these years when he made a living by giving private mathematics lessons, started to deal with mental illnesses in 1783 after a crazy friend was smashed by wolves in the forest, and the following year he assumed the editorship of the Gazette de Santer (Health Newspaper).

Although he did not show any political activity during the French Revolution, he tried to help people who had to hide or were prosecuted like Condorcet.

In 1793, with the help of his friends in the Revolutionary Government, he was appointed the director of the Bicetre Hospital, where the mentally ill and the orphans were admitted.

Appointed to the post of chief physician at Salpetriere Hospital, which he would continue until the end of his life, two years later, and a professor of pathology and health sciences at the University of Paris in the same year, Pinel was dismissed from this position in 1822 due to political reasons and by the government, but shortly afterwards he received the title of honorary professor at the same university.

A drawing showing the workspace of Philippe Pinel, known as the father of modern psychiatry.

Although Pinel is known today as one of the founders of psychiatry, he was known among his contemporaries as an internist. The most important reason for this is his work named Nosographie philosopbique (“The Philosophical Classification of Diseases”), which he wrote under the influence of the 18th century classification tradition, especially under the influence of Linnaeus. However, Pinel’s approach to mental illness has created radical changes that can be considered a real revolution in this field, and has opened a new era in understanding the causes of illness and in the care and treatment of such patients.

Pinel, who started the tradition of recording clinical events for the first time, has developed a method that will contribute to the understanding of the cause of mental illnesses and the determination of social and hereditary factors. He argued that there are no demonic or magical powers at the root of mental illnesses, and emphasized the role of mental disorders, heredity and individual sensitivity.

Pinel’s biggest contribution is his first contribution to the care of the mentally ill, as he untied the patients in chains as soon as he started working at Bicetre Hospital. humane approach. Instead of violence methods such as bloodletting, immersion in cold water, beating and chaining, he applied methods such as speaking, warm baths, culture-physics and workshops, and advocated the establishment of farms where patients can work under mental hospitals and sending patients to their families.

Pinel, who also opposed the confinement of patients to cells, divided the hospital into departments and placed the patients in these departments according to their ailments, and stated that the treatment should vary according to the type of the ailment.

Another innovation he made in hospitals was to ensure that doctors took care of patients instead of nurses, who were often ignorant. Pinel’s views were spread across Europe by the doctors he trained in Salpetricre and were gradually adopted, albeit slowly.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook