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Luys, Jules Bernard

Biography

French, 1828–1897

Details

In his early career in medicine, Jules Bernard Luys was regarded as a brilliant anatomist, noted for his careful studies of the brain and the central nervous system. He was one of the first to identify specific regions of the brain and their functions, and to apply this knowledge to neuropsychiatry. As Luys increasingly examined mental diseases, however, he became entranced by pseudoscientific theories regarding hysteria and its potential treatment by hypnotism. His 1887 report Les émotions chez les sujets en état d'hypnotisme used dramatic photographic portraits of female "hysterics" to demonstrate their ecstatic emotions and the potential for treatment under hypnosis. Luys held public demonstrations of such experiments in an attempt to prove his theory that hypnotized subjects could be cured by merely being shown various medicines—what he called "the action of medicine at a distance." This spurious idea was later proven to be an outright fraud, with the subjects deliberately miming fantastic poses, and Luys was widely discredited by the scientific community in the last decade of his life.

Artworks by Luys, Jules Bernard

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