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Lessons from the Salpêtrière
  1. Gerald Stern
  1. Correspondence to Dr G Stern, Emeritus Consultant Neurologist, University College Hospitals, 10 Cottesmore Court, Stanford Road, Queen Square London WC1 UK; geraldsterniii{at}

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“There were things that he stretched, but mainly he told the truth”Mark Twain (1835–1918)The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

“I am very disappointed in you,” Professor Henry Miller said sadly. I had worked as his First Assistant (Lecturer) for several months at the University of Durham, still separate from Newcastle University. “While it's true that you have not killed too many of my patients, you have failed to alienate some of my more boring consultant colleagues. This is unforgivable. Your punishment is to go away and learn some neurology—better late than never. Where do you want to go?” Not knowing whether he was serious, I mumbled, “What about Paris in the spring?” Henry arranged a bursary for me to attend the Salpêtrière and we were off.

Charcot's great influence on the development and evolution of European neurology was well-known (figure 1). In the 19th century, almost all young European neurologists went to Paris (including of course Sigmund Freud). They and their successors were less influenced by the British neurologists, Jackson and Gowers. …

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