The Charcot-Bouchard controversy

Arch Neurol. 1986 Mar;43(3):290-5. doi: 10.1001/archneur.1986.00520030076022.


Charles Bouchard, an ambitious and industrious man, was one of Jean Martin Charcot's first pupils. With his mentor's support, he rapidly ascended the academic ladder and became a full professor at the school of medicine in Paris. After Bouchard attained professorship, his relationship with Charcot gradually deteriorated. Their strong personalities, their ambition to have schools of their own, and their competition to become the most influential man in the medical school resulted in antagonism between them. The most tragic consequence of this antagonism took place in 1892 when Bouchard presided over the competitive examinations for agrégation, in which Joseph Babinski, one of Charcot's youngest pupils, was a candidate. Charcot wanted his pupil to be nominated but Bouchard eliminated him in order to nominate his own pupils. The nominations were appealed but finally Bouchard's decision was upheld. Babinski did not retake the examination and never became a professor at the medical school.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Portrait

MeSH terms

  • France
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Neurology / history*

Personal name as subject

  • C Bouchard
  • J M Charcot
  • J F Babinski