Jean Delay (14 November 1907,
Bayonne – 29 May 1987, Paris) was a
French psychiatrist, neurologist, writer, and a member of the
Académie française (Chair 17).
Pierre Deniker conducted a test of chlorpromazine on the
male mental ward where Delay worked, and the two published their
findings (quickly, with what has been called academic gamesmanship) in
Chlorpromazine turned out to be the first effective drug
treatment for mental illness and it had a profound effect on the
mentally ill and mental asylums.
In 1968–1970, student revolutionaries attacked his offices, and
Delay was forced into retirement from medicine. In later life, he
lived as a writer.
1 Family and education
3 Pharmacological and recreational drugs studies
4 Student revolution
8 See also
10 External links
Family and education
The son of Maurice Delay, a successful surgeon and mayor of Bayonne,
at age fourteen Delay earned a baccalaureate in philosophy. He
studied medicine in Paris. After studying in hospitals for twenty
years, especially the teaching of
Pierre Janet and Georges Dumas, he
turned to psychiatry. He also specialized in neurology at the
Salpetriere. He wrote his doctoral thesis on astereognosis in 1935. He
then undertook the study at the
Sorbonne and in 1942 wrote his thesis
on diseases of memory. He received degrees in medicine, literature,
Jean Delay was the father of Florence Delay, of the Académie
française (Seat 10), and of fr:Claude Delay, novelist and
Delay was chair of the department of psychiatry at the Centre
hospitalier Sainte-Anne from 1946 to 1970.
He received training in the psychiatry clinic of Henri Ey at the
fr:Centre hospitalier Sainte-Anne. There he became the chair of the
clinic of mental illness in 1946. He remained at the hospital until
1970 when he retired from medicine. With Ey, Delay organized the First
World Congress of
Psychiatry and founded the World Psychiatric
Association (WPA). Today, the WPA awards a
Jean Delay Prize every
Delay twice served as president of the WPA (1950 and 1957), and also
as president of the French language Congress of
Psychiatry (1954), the Society Medico-Psychologique (1960), the
International Congress of Psychosomatic Medicine (1960), and the
Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum (CINP) (1966). He
was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 1955.
He and the Soviet delegation examined
Rudolf Hess during the Nuremberg
trials, and found hysterical amnesia but not insanity in the strict
During his scientific career, Delay published more than 700 articles
and over 40 books. In 1957, he developed with his assistant Pierre
Deniker a classification of pharmacological and recreational drugs
that was validated by the World Congress of
Psychiatry in 1961.
Pharmacological and recreational drugs studies
Delay pioneered research on drugs including LSD, mescaline, and
psilocybin. Delay's name came first on these papers in part because
he was the leader of a department with strong hierarchy.
Delay's team studied isoniazid (INH) and its effect on depression,
Delay discovered, jointly with J. M. Harl and Pierre Deniker, who was
Delay's co-worker and also a psychiatrist, that chlorpromazine, the
first neuroleptic, produced a considerable reduction in the agitation
and aggression of those patients with symptoms of schizophrenia.
Known first as a "ganglio-plegic", he first called the drug
"neuroplégique" then finally a "neuroleptic". Deniker, with Harl and
Delay, published the success with chlorpromazine in May 1952.
Chlorpromazine reached common use by 1957 worldwide, except in the
United States where medications were then still considered less useful
than psychodynamic therapy. While this was not his most important
scientific contribution, it became the most famous.
It was, however, Deniker who shared the prestigious Lasker-DeBakey
Clinical Medical Research Award with
Henri Laborit (who first
recognized the drug's applications in psychiatry) and
Heinz Lehmann in
1957. As explained in the American Journal of
elsewhere, no one won a Nobel Prize for the discovery.
In May 1968, a group of about five hundred revolutionary student
Leon Trotsky professing antipsychiatry attacked his
offices. The students felt that chemicals were straitjackets and
demanded that psychiatry be removed from medicine. Within two years
they forced Delay's retirement. He decided to work on literature,
which was his first love.
A brilliant writer, he was elected to the
Académie française in 1959
and wrote remarkable biographical studies on the Youth of André Gide
(1956–1957) and his maternal ancestors in the four volumes of
Preliminary Memory (1979–1986). His essay
Psychiatry and Psychology
The Immoraliste earned him the Grand Prix in criticism. He used the
pseudonym Jean Faurel from his days at Salpêtrière until sometime
Commander of the Legion of Honour
Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Grand officer of the National Order of Merit
Commander of the Ordre de la Santé publique
Elected to the
Académie française in 1959, succeeding Georges
Les Dissolutions de la mémoire, Preface by Pierre Janet, 1942, PUF
Brain Waves and psychology, Presses Universitaires de France (PUF)
The Dissolution of Memory, Foreword by Pierre Janet, Presses
Universitaires de France, 1942
The gray city, romance, Flammarion, 1946
The Relaxing, novel, Gallimard, 1947
Nameless men, news, Gallimard, 1948
Medical psychology studies, Presses Universitaires de France, 1953
Youth Gide, Gallimard, 1956–1957
Brain Electricity, Presses Universitaires de France, 1973
Before Memory, Gallimard, 1979, 4th prize Pierre-Lafue Foundation 1980
The Euchre grid, story, Gallimard, 1988
^ Healy, David (2002). The Creation of Psychopharmacology. Harvard
University Press. p. 92. ISBN 0-674-00619-4.
^ a b c d e f g h i Blackwell, Barry. "Review: A Biography of Jean
Delay By Driss Moussaoui". International Network for the History of
Neuropsychopharmacology (INHN). Retrieved 10 September 2016.
^ "Paul Charpentier, Henri-Marie Laborit, Simone Courvoisier, Jean
Delay, and Pierre Deniker". Science History Institute. Retrieved 21
Jean Delay Prize". World Psychiatric Association. Retrieved 11
^ "Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. 1: Report of Commission to Examine
Defendant Hess". Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.
Retrieved 11 September 2016.
^ a b c Etain, M.D., Bruno; Roubaud, M.D., Laurence (September 2002).
"Jean Delay, M.D., 1907–1987". American Journal of Psychiatry.
American Psychiatric Association. 159 (9): 1489–1489.
doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.159.9.1489. Retrieved 11 September 2016. CS1
maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
^ Kandel, E. R. (2007). In Search of Memory. The Emergence of a New
Science of Mind. W. W. Norton & Co. See also A review in Spanish
about Kandel's book
^ Woods, Angela (2011). The Sublime Object of Psychiatry:
Schizophrenia in Clinical and Cultural Theory. Oxford University
Press. p. 130. ISBN 0199583951. ISSN 1759-4332.
Jean Delay à l'Académie française, 4-minute ina.fr
video (in French), 21 January 1960
Jean Delay at the Académie française
Académie française seat 17
François de Cauvigny de Colomby (1634)
François Tristan l'Hermite
François Tristan l'Hermite (1649)
Hippolyte-Jules Pilet de La Mesnardière (1655)
François de Beauvilliers, 1st duc de Saint-Aignan
François de Beauvilliers, 1st duc de Saint-Aignan (1663)
François-Timoléon de Choisy (1687)
Antoine Portail (1724)
Pierre-Claude Nivelle de La Chaussée
Pierre-Claude Nivelle de La Chaussée (1736)
Jean-Pierre de Bougainville (1754)
Jean-François Marmontel (1763)
Louis-Marcelin de Fontanes
Louis-Marcelin de Fontanes (1803)
Abel-François Villemain (1821)
Émile Littré (1871)
Louis Pasteur (1881)
Gaston Paris (1896)
Frédéric Masson (1903)
Georges Lecomte (1924)
Jean Delay (1959)
Jacques Cousteau (1988)
Érik Orsenna (1998)
ISNI: 0000 0001 2278 617X
BNF: cb11999865p (data)