First name:
18th century
Field of expertise:
Place of birth:
Lons-le-Saunier (FRA)
* 29.09.1745
† 07.04.1811
Biography print

French hospital superintendent.


Jean-Baptiste Pussin (1746-1811) was born in Lons-le-Saunier in the French Jura region. Coming from a humble background, he initially worked as a tanner. In 1771, he fell ill with scrofula (tuberculosis of the neck) and had to undergo nine years of medical treatment at Bicêtre Hospital in Paris, then a poor house, hospital, asylum and prison for men. He was eventually recruited as a member of the hospital staff, along with his wife, Marguerite Jubline. From 1780 onwards, he worked at the department for “incurably mentally disturbed” patients. Having attained the position of superintendent of this department in 1785, he advocated a significantly more humane treatment (e.g., he banned the use of chains to restrain patients). When, in 1791, two years after the French Revolution, it became evident that the patients were insufficiently supplied with the most basic provisions, Pussin sought to improve the supply situation (Magnon 2008: 43 f.).


Work with Pinel in Paris

In 1793, Philippe Pinel (1745-1826) was appointed physician at the Bicêtre, where he soon met Pussin and his wife and was impressed by their work (cf. Weiner 1979, 2008; Kohl 1996). Pinel left the Bicêtre in 1794 to become chief phycisian at l’Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, the Parisian prison hospital for women, and Pussin joined him there to support his efforts to implement therapeutic reforms (“traitement morale”). While this new approach was soon associated with the name of Pinel, the groundwork laid by Pussin has long been overlooked. Pinel himself repeatedly acknowledged his appreciation for Pussin in his main oeuvre, Traité médico-philosophique sur l’aliénation mentale ou la manie (1801: 60, 189). Pussin acted as the Salpêtrière’s superindentent until 1811 and died in the same year, at age 65 (Schuster, Härtel & Limosin 2011: 241).



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Robin Pape, Burkhart Brückner


Referencing format
Robin Pape, Burkhart Brückner (2016): Pussin, Jean-Baptiste.
In: Biographisches Archiv der Psychiatrie.
(retrieved on:17.11.2018)