CONTRIBUTION A L'ÉTUDE DE SOMMEIL HYSTÉRIQUE by CONTA, Olga, Mlle.

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Fine association copy between two female physicians

CONTRIBUTION A L'ÉTUDE DE SOMMEIL HYSTÉRIQUE Imprimerie des Thèses de la Faculté de Médecine de Paris, Ollier-Henry... Paris,

1897. Large 8vo, pp. 96; paper somewhat browned throughout due to quality, with a couple of minor tears in gutter of half-title, small nick at head of title-page, and small minor marginal nicks at head of p. 62, accession number stamped on half-title; bound in early 20th century blue publisher’s cloth, spine lettered in gilt, head and tail a little rubbed, spine darkened, with some general soiling and light scratching to covers and extremities, faint pencil number visible on upper cover; with the book-plate of Michel Collee on front paste-down, and the pencil signature of “Mad. Abricossoff”, (Glafira) at head of half-title; a good copy. Rare French doctoral theses, and interesting association copy bearing the ex-libris of a contemporary colleague working in Paris at the time, Glafira Abricossoff (1860-1940, sometimes Abrikosova), “Mad. Abricossoff”.
The Romanian born Olga Conta (1871-?) followed her sister, Pulchérie, to Paris to study medicine, completing her studies with the present theses on hysteria in 1897. According to Lipinska she subsequently returned to Romania, where she became Professor of Hygiene at the central school of the city of Jassy (now Iasi) (Lipinska, Histoire des femmes médecins, p. 533).
Presumably presented by Conta to Abricossoff, the association between these two women is revealing in that it highlights that many of the first generation of women accepted into French medical schools in the late 19th century came from outside of France, with a number coming from either Russia or Eastern Europe. Glafira Abricossoff is noted for for publishing the first full monographic study of the intellectual history of hysteria in 1897 under the title ‘L’hystérie aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (étude historique)’. ‘Abricossoff had traveled from Moscow to Paris to receive her professional training, and this study of hysteria served as her medical dissertation. It is surely striking that the first book length historical study of hysteria in any language was produced not only by a woman but by a member of the first wave of female physicians. As with Gilles de la Tourette, Abricossoff envisioned her subject strictly as chronology of medical ideas. Her intellectual and institutional allegiances, immediately apparent in the thesis, were also identical to Gilles de la Tourette’s. During the 1890’s, Abricossoff had worked as a medical externe in the Service Charcot at the Salpêtrière. Her dissertation was supervised by Alix Joffroy, Pierre Marie and Gilles de la Tourette, all Charcot progeny, and a dedication to the thesis reads “à la mémoire de mon illustre maître J.M. Charcot”’ (Micale, Approaching Hysteria, Disease and its Interpretations, 1995 p. 34-35)
Provenance: with the book-plate of Michel Collée on the front paste-down, a historian of psychiatry.

Bibliography: OCLC locates copies at Berkeley, McGill, with a number of European locations.

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