14 November 1907|
|Died||29 May 1987
|Institutions||fr:Centre hospitalier Sainte-Anne|
|Known for||First studies of the effects of chlorpromazine, writing|
|Notable awards||Commander of the Legion of Honor, Grand Officer of the National Order of Merit, and Commander of Arts and Letters|
|Children||Florence Delay, Claude Delay|
His assistant 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 1952. 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.
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, and philosophy.
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 three years.
Delay twice served as president of the WPA (1950 and 1957), and also as president of the French language Congress of Neurology and 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.
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 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 Psychiatry and elsewhere, no one won a Nobel Prize for the discovery.
In May 1968, a group of about five hundred revolutionary student followers of 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 before 1959.
- 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 Lecomte
- Les Dissolutions de la mémoire, Preface by Pierre Janet, 1942, PUF
- Brain Waves and psychology, Presses Universitaires de France (PUF) 1942
- 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.
- 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". Chemical Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
- "Jean Delay Prize". World Psychiatric Association. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
- "Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. 1: Report of Commission to Examine Defendant Hess". Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
- 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. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
- 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.