On This Day … 06 May [2022]

Events

  • 1757 – English poet Christopher Smart is admitted into St Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics in London, beginning his six-year confinement to mental asylums.

People (Births)

  • 1856 – Sigmund Freud, Austrian neurologist and psychoanalyst (d. 1939).
  • 1922 – Camille Laurin, Canadian psychiatrist and politician, 7th Deputy Premier of Quebec (d. 1999).

People (Deaths)

  • 2012 – Jean Laplanche, French psychoanalyst and author (b. 1924).

Christopher Smart

Christopher Smart (11 April 1722 to 21 May 1771) was an English poet. He was a major contributor to two popular magazines, The Midwife and The Student, and a friend to influential cultural icons like Samuel Johnson and Henry Fielding. Smart, a high church Anglican, was widely known throughout London.

Smart was infamous as the pseudonymous midwife “Mrs. Mary Midnight” and for widespread accounts of his father-in-law, John Newbery, locking him away in a mental asylum for many years over Smart’s supposed religious “mania”. Even after Smart’s eventual release, a negative reputation continued to pursue him as he was known for incurring more debt than he could repay; this ultimately led to his confinement in debtors’ prison until his death.

St Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics

St Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics was founded in London in 1751 for the treatment of incurable pauper lunatics by a group of philanthropic apothecaries and others. It was the second public institution in London created to look after mentally ill people, after the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlem (Bedlam), founded in 1246.

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud (born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 06 May 1856 to 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for evaluating and treating pathologies in the psyche through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst.

In founding psychoanalysis, Freud developed therapeutic techniques such as the use of free association and discovered transference, establishing its central role in the analytic process. Freud’s redefinition of sexuality to include its infantile forms led him to formulate the Oedipus complex as the central tenet of psychoanalytical theory. His analysis of dreams as wish-fulfilments provided him with models for the clinical analysis of symptom formation and the underlying mechanisms of repression. On this basis, Freud elaborated his theory of the unconscious and went on to develop a model of psychic structure comprising id, ego and super-ego. Freud postulated the existence of libido, sexualised energy with which mental processes and structures are invested and which generates erotic attachments, and a death drive, the source of compulsive repetition, hate, aggression, and neurotic guilt. In his later works, Freud developed a wide-ranging interpretation and critique of religion and culture.

Camille Laurin

Camille Laurin (06 May 1922 to 11 March 1999) was a psychiatrist and Parti Québécois (PQ) politician in the Canadian province of Quebec. A MNA member for the riding of Bourget, he is considered the father of Quebec’s language law known informally as “Bill 101”.

Jean Laplanche

Jean Laplanche (21 June 1924 to 06 May 2012) was a French author, psychoanalyst and winemaker. Laplanche is best known for his work on psychosexual development and Sigmund Freud’s seduction theory, and wrote more than a dozen books on psychoanalytic theory. The journal Radical Philosophy described him as “the most original and philosophically informed psychoanalytic theorist of his day.”

From 1988 to his death, Laplanche was the scientific director of the German to French translation of Freud’s complete works (Oeuvres Complètes de Freud / Psychanalyse – OCF.P) in the Presses Universitaires de France, in association with André Bourguignon, Pierre Cotet and François Robert.

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