John Libbey Eurotext



Jean-Jacques Rousseau's ideas on medicine Volume 13, issue 7, Septembre 2017

Professeur de Thérapeutique - Santé Médecine et Biologie Humaine
Bobigny - Université Paris 13
* Tirés à part

Jean Jacques Rousseau was ill during all his life: he suffered from a chronic urinary retention syndrome, certainly linked to a congenital stenosis of the posterior urethra, of which he speaks abundantly throughout his correspondence and which has left quite handicapped and undoubtedly contributed to make him the “solitary man” that Diderot mocked.

This led him to often meet the doctors and spend time with them, calling “his friends,” in the first half of his life, before rejecting them with contempt when he realized that they were unable to find a cure to his ills.

He, who mingled with everything, also expressed very precise ideas about medicine. It is not surprising that Emile's author, who was so much inclined to put Mother Nature forward, advocated “natural” medicine with passion. He did so to the point of convincing many of his correspondents who will boast on acting the “Jean-Jacques” way, and will be relayed by a whole medical current, called the Hygienists whose leader was the man he called “the illustrious doctor Tissot”.