Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital

Location Paris, France
Care system Public
Emergency department Yes
Beds 1,603
Website http://www.aphp.fr
Lists Hospitals in France
The Mazarin entrance to the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital

The Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital (Groupe hospitalier Pitié-Salpêtrière) is a celebrated teaching hospital in the 13th arrondissement of Paris.[1] Part of the Assistance publique – Hôpitaux de Paris, it is one of Europe's largest hospitals.[2]


The Salpêtrière was originally a gunpowder factory ("salpêtre" being a constituent of gunpowder), but was converted to a dumping ground for the poor of Paris. It served as a prison for prostitutes, and a holding place for the mentally disabled, criminally insane, epileptics, and the poor; it was also notable for its population of rats.

In 1656, Louis XIV charged the architect Libéral Bruant to build a hospital on the location of the factory, founding the Hospice de la Salpêtrière. The building was expanded in 1684.

By the eve of the Revolution, it had become the world's largest hospital, with a capacity of 10,000 patients plus 300 prisoners, largely prostitutes swept from the streets of Paris. From La Salpêtrière they were paired with convicts and forcibly expatriated to New France.

During the September massacres of 1792, the Salpêtrière was stormed on the night of 3/4 September by a mob from the impoverished working-class district of the Faubourg Saint-Marcel, with the avowed intention of releasing the detained street-girls; 134 of the prostitutes were released; twenty-five madwomen were less fortunate and were dragged, some still in their chains, into the streets and murdered.[3] Madame Roland, a Girondin supporter of the Revolution in its first liberalising stages, recorded in her Memoirs that the Revolution "has been stained by villains and become hideous".[4]

1857 lithograph by Armand Gautier, showing personifications of dementia, megalomania, acute mania, melancholia, idiocy, hallucination, erotomania and paralysis in the gardens of the Hospice de la Salpêtrière.
Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital Chapel

In the first half of the 19th century, the early humanitarian reforms in the treatment of the mentally ill were initiated here by Philippe Pinel (1745 - 1826), friend of the Encyclopédistes; his sculptural monument stands before the main entrance in Place Marie-Curie, Boulevard de L'Hôpital. Pinel was succeeded at the Salpêtrière by his assistant Jean-Étienne Dominique Esquirol (1772 - 1840) who, in 1817, had initiated the first systematic lectures on psychiatry in France. Esquirol was also the chief architect of the French Lunacy legislation of 1838.

A regular visitor to the Salpêtrière from 1842 till his death more than thirty years later was Guillaume-Benjamin Duchenne de Boulogne (1806 - 1875). A strange and reclusive figure who held no senior appointment in the hospital, he nevertheless made extensive and meticulous observations on neurological problems, employing a wide range of innovative diagnostic techniques. Duchenne's clinical science stood at the crossroads of physiology, psychology, electricity and photography, as recorded in his much admired De l'électrisation localisée with its associated atlas Album de photographies pathologiques (1855, 1862). His name is commemorated in the myopathies which he described, as well as in his 1862 masterpiece, the Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine, much consulted by Charles Darwin in his work on human evolution. Later, when Jean-Martin Charcot (1825 - 1893) took over the department, the Salpêtrière became known as a psychiatric centre. Charcot had absorbed much from Duchenne (to whom he always referred as "mon Maître, Duchenne") and his teaching activities on the Salpêtrière's wards helped to elucidate the natural history of many diseases including neurosyphilis, epilepsy, and stroke. Students came from all across Europe to listen to Charcot's lectures and clinical demonstrations: among them - in 1885 - was the 29 year old Sigmund Freud whose deconstruction of Charcot's lectures on hysteria formed the foundations of psychoanalysis.

The Hôpital de la Pitié, founded about 1612, was moved next to the Salpêtrière in 1911 and fused with it in 1964 to form the Groupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpêtrière. The Pitié-Salpêtrière is now a general teaching hospital with departments focusing on most major medical specialities.

Numerous celebrities have been treated at the Salpêtrière, including Michael Schumacher,[5] Ronaldo,[5] Prince Rainier of Monaco,[6] Alain Delon, Gérard Depardieu, and Valérie Trierweiler.[7] Former president Jacques Chirac had a pacemaker fitted at the Salpêtrière in 2008.[8] Celebrities have also died at the Pitié-Salpêtrière, including the singer Josephine Baker in 1975, following a cerebral haemorrhage; philosopher Michel Foucault (from complications of AIDS) on 25 June 1984; Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997;[9] and French bicycle racer Laurent Fignon in 2010 (from the metastatic spread of lung cancer).


Hospital Chapel

Chapelle de la Salpêtrière (Hospital Chapel), at n° 47 Boulevard de l'Hôpital is one of the masterpieces of Libéral Bruant, architect of Les Invalides. It was built around 1675, on the model of a Greek cross and has four central chapels each capable of holding a congregation of some 1,000 people. Its central octagonal cupola is illuminated by picture windows in circular arcs.

Philippe Pinel monument

In the place in front of the main entrance to the Hospital, there is a large bronze monument to Philippe Pinel, who was chief physician of the Hospice from 1795 to his death in 1826. The Salpêtrière was, at the time, like a large village, with seven thousand elderly indigent and ailing women, an entrenched bureaucracy, a teeming market and huge infirmaries. Pinel created an inoculation clinic in his service at the Salpêtrière in 1799 and the first vaccination in Paris was given there in April 1800.

Pinel's monument at La Salpêtrière, Ludowig Durand, sculptor, 1885[10]

Notable doctors

Through its history, the Pitié-Salpétrière hosted notable doctors, among others:

See also


  1. "Pitié-Salpêtrière." Assistance publique – Hôpitaux de Paris. Retrieved on 26 February 2015. "47-83 boulevard de l'Hôpital 75013 Paris"
  2. "How to conduct European clinical trials from the Paris Region?" (PDF). CLINICAL TRIALS. BioTeam® Paris Region. February 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 17, 2007. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  3. The episode is discussed in detail by Mary Bosworth, "Anatomy of a Massacre: Gender, Power, and Punishment in Revolutionary Paris" Violence Against Women, 7.10, (2001:11011121).
  4. Thirza Vallois, "Paris Kiosque: La Salpêtrière" Archived July 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. 1 2 "Interview with Professor Gérard Saillant". Fia.com. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
  6. "Prince Rainier health "worrying"". BBC News. 2005-03-25. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
  7. "A Survivor of the Painful Road to Hell and Back". Buzzle.com. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
  8. "Europe | France's Chirac gets pacemaker". BBC News. 2008-04-11. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
  9. Series of Real-Time Reports involving the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales Archived October 7, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. N. Mclntyre, "The Medical Statues of Paris"
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière.

Coordinates: 48°50′13″N 2°21′54″E / 48.837°N 2.365°E / 48.837; 2.365

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/4/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.