Jean Pierre Falret
Biography of Jean Pierre Falret
Jean Pierre Falret commenced his medical studies in Paris in 1811, at the early age of 17. Inspired by Philippe Pinel (1745-1826) and Jean Étienne Dominique Esquirol (1772-1840), he devoted himself particularly to mental diseases, of which he was to become one of the most prominent representatives.
Falret was conferred doctor of medicine in 1819. Three years later, in 1822, with Felix Voicing (1794-1872), he founded, the private mental asylum in Venires near Paris. This was continued by his son, and for more than half a century remained one of the leading and most famous mental hospitals on the Continent.
In 1831 Falret was appointed Chef de l’hospice de la Salpêtrière, holding this office until he retired for reason of high age in 1867. His main works were written during these 36 years.
Although a shrewd observer, Falret was drawn to the mystique. He was a proponent of the dualistic nature of man, explaining from the interaction of body and soul both healthy and diseased conditions of the soul - both have nothing in common. From the interactions of the soul and the diseased arises something particular, a novum organon, and the utterings of this Novum organon make up the disturbances of the soul and mental illnesses, respectively. These are not to be treated solely in somatic ways, as demanded by many, but mainly psychic, a procedure demanding moral.
In 1870 Falret moved from Paris to his native city of Marseille, where he had been born 76 years earlier, and died on October 28 that year, far from the Seine.
Two of his sons became physicians: Henri-Louis Falret and the younger Jules Ph.-J. Falret, born 1824.