Thesis ID: CBB860383710

The Illuminating Case: The Case Study Method in the Fin-De-siècle French Brain and Mind Sciences (2021)


Levine, Zachary (Author)
Moyn, Samuel (Advisor)

Columbia University
Moyn, Samuel
Publication date: 2021
Language: English

Publication Date: 2021
Physical Details: 255

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, French brain and mind scientists filled publications with “case studies” – written works of varying lengths on individual patients or human subjects. This dissertation shows the clinical and conceptual labor that brain and mind scientists employed to transform individual cases into epistemologically meaningful case studies. More specifically, it tracks the rise, fall and afterlife of a model of the case study that emerged in the Salpêtrière in the 1870s and ultimately fell out of scientific favor in the 1890s. In this model, neurologists, psychiatrists and psychologists had a common goal of presenting case study subjects as simple representatives of diseases or faculties of mind, but the strategies they used to attain that goal transformed. Clinicians’ literary strategies for presenting cases as simple gave way to an increasing emphasis on the selection of cases perceived to be inherently simple, particularly in the case studies of neurologist J.M. Charcot and his students. Meanwhile, psychologist Alfred Binet created procedures for generating simplicity experimentally that would impact early intelligence tests, challenging the stability of the distinction between case studies and statistical methods in the brain and mind sciences.

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Authors & Contributors
Lombardo, Giovanni Pietro
Asberg, M. A.
Ashley, Susan A.
Babini, Valeria Paola
Bartolucci, Chiara
Code, Chris
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
History of the Human Sciences
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
Histoire des Sciences Médicales
History of Psychiatry
History of Science
Bloomsbury Academic
Princeton University Press
Psychology Press
University of California, Los Angeles
Claremont Graduate University
Case studies
Mental disorders and diseases
Ballet, Gilbert
Bertrand, Alexandre
Charcot, Jean Martin
De Sanctis, Sante
Despine, Charles-Humbert-Antoine
Freud, Sigmund
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
17th century
18th century
21st century
Strasbourg (France)
Académie des Sciences, Paris
Reichsuniversität Strassburg
American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN)
Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946)

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