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Genius in FranceAn Idea and Its Uses$
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Ann Jefferson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691160658

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691160658.001.0001

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Genius, Neurosis, and Family Trees

Genius, Neurosis, and Family Trees

Moreau de Tours

(p.104) Chapter 8 Genius, Neurosis, and Family Trees
Genius in France

Ann Jefferson

Princeton University Press

This chapter looks at how the pathologizing of genius continued in the work of Jacques-Joseph Moreau—known as “Moreau de Tours”—who adopted the eloquent term “morbid psychology” for his particular branch of mental medicine and defined genius as a form of neurosis. His book on the subject, Psychologie morbide (Morbid psychology, 1859) examines the general phenomenon of “neuropathy” rather than confining itself to the study of individual cases as Lélut had done. But the underlying assumptions and approach remain the same, and Moreau follows Lélut in asserting the physiological basis of mental malfunction when he insists that “it is essential…to explore man in his entrails and to abandon visions of pure reason in the regions of the absolute.” The mind exists in inseparable conjunction with the body, and genius is inherently pathological, placed within a configuration of mental debility that extends from imbecility to delirium.

Keywords:   genius, Moreau de Tours, morbid psychology, neurosis, Jacques-Joseph Moreau, Psychologie morbide, neuropathy, mental malfunction, mental medicine

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