Théâtre et thérapie de la maladie mentale (France, 1790–1815)

Anouchka Vasak
Google Scholar Anouchka Vasak


The theatrical experience conducted by the Marquis de Sade (1803–1814) with the lunatics of the Charenton asylum is a known fact. This practice, which was considered scandalous though it attracted the “Tout-Paris”, was supposedly part of the so-called “moral treatment” initiated by the alienist-physician Philippe Pinel, founder of modern psychiatry in France. The transition period from the French Revolution to the Empire and the Restoration was, indeed, a time of many transformations in the treatment of mental illness. In its relation to mental illness, theatre may serve as a yardstick for measuring power issues related to divergent conceptions of man and his freedom. But this moment of history, observed through the prism of the problematic of theatre/mental illness, also makes it possible to question our constantly changing approaches to the French Revolution.

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