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Q: Folie a Deux ( Answered,   4 Comments )
Subject: Folie a Deux
Category: Reference, Education and News > Teaching and Research
Asked by: melechi-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 24 Jun 2002 00:40 PDT
Expires: 24 Jul 2002 00:40 PDT
Question ID: 32230
Looking for early references to folie a deux, I've come across a brief
mention  of the physician William Harvey, who apparently described the
case of two sisters and their tandem madness.

Where can it be found, and what does Harvey have to say?
Subject: Re: Folie a Deux
Answered By: mosquitohawk-ga on 24 Jun 2002 06:03 PDT
Greetings meelchi-ga!

This was somewhat of a difficult answer to track down. My original
search strategy involved the phrase: "folie a deux" harvey

This brought up a lot of references to a winery called "Folie A Deux"
run by a gentleman named Scott Harvey! Evidentally, the television
show "X-Files" did a show about this disorder as well. Not exactly
what you were looking for. I received over 10 pages of results on that
search, and on the 4th page I found a reference to a website in Turkey
that contained very little english, but I did find the name Dr. Harvey
Williams Cushing (1869-1939) as well as the phrase 'folie a deux'. I
figured I must be on to something can find this result at   It also includes a picture
of the doctor, look at frame #9. Folie a deux is now known as Induced
Psychotic Disorder (IPD) of which there have been 380 diagnosed cases
from 1877 to 1996.

Dr. Harvey Williams Cushing (born April 8, 1869 in Cleveland, Ohio and
died October 7, 1939 in New Haven, Connecticut, buried in Lakeview
Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio) was an American born neurosurgeon and is
widely acclaimed as the greatest neurosurgeon of the twentieth
century. A very good biographical article of the doctor, including his
discoveries, quotations and processes can be found at and is brought to you by
Who Named It?.

I found a reference to this disease being studied as 'folie
communiquee' by Jules Baillarger in 1860 and by Ernest Charles Lasegue
and Jules Farlet in 1877. Folie imposee, folie simultanee, folie
communiquee and folie induite are the four subtypes of folie a deux.

There are many references to folie a deux on the internet, the easiest
way to locate them is to go to and enter "folie a deux" in
the search box. You need to include the "quotations" in order for the
search engine to require each word to be present, this limits your
incorrect hits. Folie a deux is french for "folly of two".

Here are references to Dr. Cushing and his studies:

Here are some references to other specific cases involving sisters: 
(Lea & Christine Papin, 1933, France) 
(Psychological analysis of disorder as well as indepth case studies)
(Medical Journal entry with case studies)

My search strategy involved the following:

"folie a deux" harvey

"folie a deux" cushing

"Harvey Williams Cushing"

Hope all that helped, you can request clarification prior to rating if
you like, I'll be glad to help out!


Request for Answer Clarification by melechi-ga on 24 Jun 2002 13:41 PDT
Thank's that's all very interesting but not really what I'm looking
for: ie the case of dual insanity described by the English physician
William Harvey.

Clarification of Answer by mosquitohawk-ga on 25 Jun 2002 07:33 PDT
Oh my! My apologies for tracking down the wrong scientist! I will do
my best to reanswer your question, thanks for bringing this to my

The Seventeenth century saw a complete upheaval in the way the body
was viewed. Many scientists and thinkers contributed to this change
but foremost were  William Harvey (1578-1657) with his demonstration
of the circulation of the blood.

Sir William Harvey was born in Folkestone, England and went on to
study at Cambridge University following which he spent several years
at Padua, where he came under the influence of Fabricius. He
established a successful medical practice in London and by precise
observation and scrupulous reasoning developed his theory of
circulation. In 1628, he published his classic book Exercitatio
Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus (Concerning the
Motion of the Heart and Blood), often referred to as De Motu Cordis.
His second great book, Exercitationes de generatione animalium
("Experiments Concerning Animal Generation"), published in 1651, laid
the foundation of modern embryology.

William Harvey is quoted by The Library of Iberian Resources Online
( as writing in his essay
'Exercitationes de generatione animalium':

"It is of the same significance in these animals when they conceive
eggs, as it is in young women when their uterus grows hot, their
menses flow, and their bosoms swell - in a word, when they become
marriageable; and who, if they continue too long unwedded, are seized
with serious symptoms - hysterics, furor uterinus, etc., or fall into
a cachetic state, and distemperatures of various kinds. All animals
indeed, grow savage when in heat, and unless they are suffered to
enjoy one another, become changed in disposition. In like manner women
occasionally become insane through ungratified desire, and to such a
height does the malady reach in some, that they are believed to be
poisoned, or moonstruck, or possessed by a devil."

In another essay concerning William Harvey, the author claims "In
medieval Christian thought, the Holy Spirit was believed to reside in
the heart of each person and was responsible for controlling emotional
behavior. But this theological certainty began to break down in 1628
when William Harvey published his famous book "On the Motion of the
Heart and Blood in Animals," proving that the function of the heart
was to circulate blood through the body. For many people, this meant
the Holy Spirit was displaced (or at least reduced to a metaphor) as
they came to think of the human body as a machine that was subject to
self-regulation." The author goes on to state these thoughts led to
the belief that if physical passions went unmet, madness was likely to
occur. (Full text of this essay can be found at )

William Harvey once wrote to a colleague that nowhere does nature more
openly "display her secret mysteries than in cases where she shows
traces of her workings apart from the beaten path; nor is there any
better way to advance the proper practice of medicine than to give our
minds to the discovery of the usual law of Nature by careful
investigation of cases of rare forms of disease." For full text of
this article, visit

You can purchase editions of William Harvey's books from Great Books
and Classics by following this link-

I also have found a biographical book related to William Harvey
offered for $30.00:

Author: Chauvois, Louis. 

William Harvey: His Life and Times: His Discoveries: His Methods.
Foreword by Sir Zachary Cope. New York: Philosophical Library, [1957].
8vo. 1st American Edition, printed in UK. [First published the same
year in French]. 271+[1]pp. + 18 plates. 14 text figures. Green cloth
with painted spine label and gilt front cover device. Foot of spine
crushed, else very good in tattered pictorial dust jacket. (OP).

You can order this book by following this link-
or go directly to the website offering it-

Another book with comments about William Harvey: 'The languages of
William Harvey's natural philosophy' by Roger K. French.

There was an article written about William Harvey in the July 2000
issue of Scientific American. You can search for this article at the
Scientific American archive, however, you must purchase that issue
online before they will allow you to read the article.
( Good news is, has a cached
version of the article (Yeah google!) available for your perusal at

There is another interesting biographical link with a portrait of
William Harvey from the (
San Josť State University. You can view a different portrait of Harvey

I have literally, for the last three hours been searching and
searching in an attempt to locate this reference. I have found nothing
relating to the two sisters who were stricken with tandem madness as
you've described. Perhaps if you could name your source, I could use
that in an attempt to locate what you're looking for. From all I've
found, Sir William Harvey was an acclaimed medical doctor, the
'founder' of cardiology and a Christian believer. I have found
absolutely no reference to him delving into psychology or even a
quotation regarding a psychological matter except his thoughts on
unfulfilled desires. I wonder if it still could not be Cushing you are
referring to, because Cushing spent time in Europe studying psychology
according to my research yesterday. If you can provide more
information regarding your source, I will continue searching for you
gladly, I don't like to give wrong answers, so I hope you have more
information or will consider this in your rating.

My search strategies were exhaustive and includes the following

"william harvey" madness
"william harvey" sister mad
"william harvey" folie a deux
"william harvey" insane insanity
"william harvey" psychology
"william harvey" psych
"william harvey" tandem madness

I also browsed several psychology websites to no avail.

The following links contain some reference to William Harvey and small
snipets of information not included in my clarification above.
(another quotation from Harvey)
Subject: Re: Folie a Deux
From: mplungjan-ga on 24 Jun 2002 02:31 PDT
I could not find anything on Harvey, but here is a good explanation
Subject: Re: Folie a Deux
From: mplungjan-ga on 24 Jun 2002 02:34 PDT
Here are some links on Harvey (If we are talking about the same person
who was studying how blood circulates)
Subject: Re: Folie a Deux
From: mplungjan-ga on 24 Jun 2002 02:43 PDT
Some search terms

"induced psychotic disorder"
"shared psychotic disorder" folie
Subject: Re: Folie a Deux
From: merope-ga on 24 Jun 2002 12:41 PDT
Actually, the French translates literally to "madness of two" (as in insanity)

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