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Observations placeholder

Dr. Dufour, Chief Medical Officer of the Asile de Saint-Robert (Isère) – and a case of Chorea



Type of Spiritual Experience


Chorea (or choreia, occasionally) is an abnormal involuntary movement disorder, one of a group of neurological disorders called dyskinesias. ... The term hemichorea refers to chorea of one side of the body, such as chorea of one arm but not both.  Hysterical chorea or choreomania is a term once used to describe a condition first recognised during the Middle Ages and characterised by choreiform spasms that occurred in large closed communities

Syrup of ipecac, commonly referred to as ipecac, is a drug that was once widely used as an expectorant and a rapid-acting emetic. It is obtained from the dried rhizome and roots of Carapichea ipecacuanha from which it derives its name.

A description of the experience

As described in Spiritism (Western Fakirism) Study Historical, Critical and Experimental - Dr. Paul Gibier [1887]

On May 31, 1886, at the meeting of the Société médico-psychologique, Dr. Paul Garnier read a work by Dr. Dufour, Chief Medical Officer of the Asile de Saint-Robert (Isère),[1]:

This interesting observation is that of the man named T..., suffering from hystero-chorea, considered to be very dangerous and who, nevertheless, was placed at liberty in the security zone, Dr Dufour having a horror for constraint means.

…… T quickly became accessible to the suggestion [that was successively right in his case], of crises of great hysteria, of suicide tendencies, painful hearing hallucinations[2], etc. T..., who had escaped three times from an asylum, is now walking freely in the prison. Being in a state of sleepwalking, it was suggested he was not to escape.

On the other hand, T..., is sensitive at a distance to the action of the drugs: the facts reported by Dr. Dufour are truly surprising.

  • A gram of ipecac placed in a folded paper, put on T..., covered with a high-formed hat, caused nausea, and regurgitation that stopped once the drug was removed.
  • Atropine slightly dilates the pupils, dries the throat, causes general muscle relaxation.
  • A pack of valerian roots, placed on the head, under a thick wool cap, produced inconceivable effects!  T..., follows a fly with his eyes, he leaves his chair to run after it, he starts walking on all fours, plays like a young cat with a cork, makes the big back if you bark, he licks his hand, passes it over his ears.  With the removal of the valerian, everything disappears, and T... finds himself, on all fours, surprised to be in this position. He has no memory of what just happened.
  • The cherry laurel, applied to the head, caused an explosion of religious feelings in T..., who is an anarchist and atheist. He was shown a blank wall where a Christ should be put, he kneels before the wall, raises his hands to the sky, then he uncovers himself. At that moment with the falling leaves his devotion disappears. No memory of what happened.

Any idea of deceit on the part of the patient, any thought of possible suggestion must be removed given T...'s ignorance on this point and the precautions taken not to do or say anything that could produce the suggestion."



[1] Journal l’Hypnotisme, 1886, n° I.
[2] As we can see, the suggestion, while unfortunately it can be used for criminal purposes, can also be used for therapeutic purposes. Dr. Voisin obtained, through him, very happy changes in character. (Note from the A.)

The source of the experience

Healer other

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Placebo effect

Activities and commonsteps