Henri Laborit

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Henri Laborit (21 November 1914 – 18 May 1995) was a French physician, writer and philosopher. In 1952, Laborit was the first to recognize the potential use of drug therapy in psychiatry.

Laborit was born in Hanoi, French Indochina and started his career as a neurosurgeon in the Marines and then moved on to fundamental research. Laborit later became a research head at Boucicault Hospital in Paris. His interests included psychotropic drugs, eutonology, and memory.

Immediately following its synthesis at Rhône-Poulenc in 1951, Laborit requested a sample of "4560 RP" (later called chlorpromazine) to test for the purpose of reducing shock in injured soldiers.[1] His observation that people treated with this drug showed reduced interest in their surroundings led him to suggest the first test of antipsychotics by Hamon, Paraire and Velluz, where a 24-year old patient with mania was released and ready "to resume a normal life" after 20 days treatment.[2][3] Laborit won the prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research in 1957.

He was also the first researcher to study GHB, in the early 1960s. He hoped that it would be an orally bioavailable precursor to the neurotransmitter GABA, but it proved to have other uses and was later discovered as an endogenous neurotransmitter.

Cultural references[edit]

He appeared in the 1980 Alain Resnais film Mon oncle d'Amérique, which is built around the ideas of Laborit and uses the stories of three people to illustrate theories deriving from evolutionary psychology regarding the relationship of self and society. This movie includes short sequences of rat experiments that are used to illustrate the behaviors of some of the characters in different situations (such as inhibition in the action [4]).

The French-born American market researcher Clotaire Rapaille considered Laborit to be an important influence in his work.[1]

The 1991 Italian film Mediterraneo begins with a quote from Laborit which, translated, means "In times like these, escape is the only way to stay alive and keep dreaming."


  • Physiologie et biologie du système nerveux végétatif au service de la chirurgie (1950)
  • L’anesthésie facilitée par les synergies médicamenteuses (1951)
  • Réaction organique à l’agression et choc (1952)
  • Pratique de l’hibernothérapie en chirurgie et en médecine (1954)
  • Résistance et soumission en physio-biologie : l’hibernation artificielle (1954)
  • Excitabilité neuro-musculaire et équilibre ionique. Intérêt pratique en chirurgie et hibernothérapie (1955)
  • Le delirium tremens (1956)
  • Bases physio-biologiques et principes généraux de réanimation (1958)
  • Les destins de la vie et de l’homme. Controverses par lettres sur des thèmes biologiques (1959)
  • Physiologie humaine (cellulaire et organique) (1961)
  • Du soleil à l’homme (1963)
  • Les régulations métaboliques (1965)
  • Biologie et structure (1968)
  • Neurophysiologie. Aspects métaboliques et pharmacologiques (1969)
  • L’Homme imaginant : Essai de biologie politique (1970)
  • L’homme et la ville (1971)
  • L’agressivité détournée : Introduction à une biologie du comportement social (1970)
  • La Société informationnelle : Idées pour l’autogestion (1973)
  • Les Comportements : Biologie, physiologie, pharmacologie (1973)
  • La Nouvelle grille (1974)
  • Éloge de la fuite (1976)
  • Discours sans méthode (1978)
  • L’Inhibition de l’action (1979)
  • La Colombe assassinée (1983)
  • Dieu ne joue pas aux dés (1987)
  • La vie antérieure (1987)
  • Les récepteurs centraux et la transduction de signaux (1990)
  • L’esprit dans le grenier (1992)
  • Étoiles et molécules (1992)
  • La légende des comportements (1994)
  • Une Vie - Derniers entretiens (1996)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shorter, Edward (1997). A History of Psychiatry. John Wiley & Sons. p. 248. ISBN 978-0471245315. 
  2. ^ Ban, Thomas A. (August 3, 2007). "Fifty Years Chlorpromazine: A Historical Perspective". Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 4: 495–500. Retrieved August 18, 2016. 
  3. ^ Diaz, Jaime. How Drugs Influence Behavior. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1996.
  4. ^ Laborit, Henri (1979). L'inhibition de l'action. Masson. 

External links[edit]