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De Clérambault gained his thesis in 1899. In 1905 he became assistant physician at the special infirmary for the insane, Prefecture de Police. From 1920 he was head of this institution. Apart from his psychiatric studies, he was an acclaimed painter and wrote on the costumes of various native tribes. He was also a professional photographer, and is remembered for a large quantity of photographs taken in Morocco of its populace. These photos were later placed in the Musée de l'Homme, and in 1990 exhibited at the Pompidou Center in Paris. For a period of time Clérambault conducted classes at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts.
For his actions during World War I, de Clérambault was awarded with a cross of the Légion d'Honneur as well as the Croix de guerre.
He is remembered for his studies in psychotic symptomatology, developing a theoretical system in which the understanding of fundamental characteristics of psychotic symptoms were linked with a description of alleged underlying neural processes. These neural processes would then be defined in terms of aberrant behaviors of neural connectivity. Clérambault provided a thorough taxonomy of psychotic symptoms based on subtle traits and nuances, which he arranged in a complex system of categories, subcategories, groups and subgroups, with the main categories including sensory, mental and motor phenomena. Ultimately, all the categorized symptoms could be defined by a single, common characteristic; their autonomous and automatic nature. The psychotic symptoms were then referred to as "automatisms".
Clérambault believed that automatisms can happen in the context of normal, or during subnormal thinking processes when the nervous system is challenged. Therefore in the context of automatisms, the boundaries of psychotic and normal functionality are redefined.
Famously, the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan attributed his 'entry into psychoanalysis' as largely due to the influence of de Clérambault, whom he regarded as his 'only master in psychiatry'.
- de Clérambault's syndrome; (also called erotomania) a condition in which a person becomes deluded that a certain person of higher social status is in love with them. Described by de Clérambault in his publication of Les Psychoses Passionelles in 1921.
- Kandinsky-Clérambault syndrome; a confusing clinical entity in which the patient believes his mind is being controlled by someone else or external forces. Named along with Russian physician Victor Khrisanfovich Kandinsky (1849-1889).
- Mental Automatisms A conceptual history into Psychosis
- Parts of this article are based on a translation of an article from the French Wikipedia.
- Gaétan Henri Alfred Edouard Léon Marie Gatian de Clérambault @ Who Named It (retrieved 7 August 2009)