James Parkinson: Shaking up neurology in the late eighteenth century

Christopher GARDNER-THORPE
Exeter Neurosciences, Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital


James Parkinson (1755-1824) is well known as the author of the text The Shaking Palsy, published in 1817 as the first known description of paralysis agitans, the condition subsequently named Parkinsonís Disease by Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893), the famous Parisian neurologist. Parkinson was one of several doctors who, during the course of the Long Eighteenth Century, promulgated within their localities their experiments in science and medicine. They were polymaths indeed. Parkinson lived during the time of Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), the physician in Litchfield whose far-reaching views led thinking on evolution and other scientific topics. The cleric William Paley (1743-1805) gathered together ideas prevalent in the scientific community around this time too and Charles Bell (1774-1842) after whom was named a variety of facial palsy, demonstrated the value of good art work in explaining anatomy and pathology. Long in time, the eighteenth century was long in the list of ideas, scientific and philosophical that helped shake up the medicine and science of the (perhaps even longer) nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Lessons from each century should help forge our ideas in the twenty-first.


18th Century Neuroscience Symposium -- Function in the "Long" 18th Century: The Transition from Medieval Cell Doctrine to Cortical Localization Doctrine
Saturday, 26 June 2004, 9:00 am - 6:30 pm

Ninth Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN)

Montreal, Quebec, Canada