Etude sur la Simulation de la Folie  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Etude sur la Simulation de la Folie (Nancy, 1888) is a study by Charles Joseph Jules Sizaret.

This pamphlet by a beginner, which contains a useful collection of clinical observations, is particularly amusing, in that all the observations cited by the author demonstrate exactly the reverse of what he proposes to prove. After having himself asserted (p. 22) that ' the victims of hysteria are much given to simulate all sorts of maladies,' he says (p. 29) : ' Persons mentally affected now and then simulate madness ; the case is rare, but it has nevertheless been verified, and if it has not been oftener recorded, it is, we believe, that observers have limited themselves to a superficial examination, and certain actions have not been analyzed.' The case is so far from rare that it is pointed out in every observation quoted by the author. In the case of Baillarger (2nd observation), the so-called simulatrix had been in a lunatic asylum eight years before, as a fully confirmed mad-woman ; in the case of Morel -(4th observation), the simulator 'had a nervous attack at the sight of a lancet,' which is clearly aichmophobia and a certain stigma of degeneration ; in the 6th observation Morel admits that ' the extravagance of the subject, his fear of poison ' (thus a case of pronounced iophobia), ' and the fact of picking up filth, indicate a possible mental disorder' ; the case of Foville (loth observation) ' had a certain number of insane in his family' ; the case of Legrand du Saulle (iSth observation) was 'the son of a hysterical woman and grandson of a madman' ; the case of Bonnet and Delacroix (igth observation) 'numbers some insane among his ancestors' ; the case of Billed (22nd observation) ' has often manifested disturbance and delirium,' etc. All these supposed simulators were insane quite unmistakably, and the fact that they intentionally exaggerated the symptoms of 'their delirium was only a further proof of their alienation. --Max Nordau, Degeneration (Max Nordau)

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