[The pathography of Dostoyevsky or the dangers of being the Father of the Idiot].
ABSTRACT The widespread genre of pathography, or medical biographies of famous people, may be interpreted as a case of stigmatisation. It has been suggested by proponents of the idea of stigmatisation that, by labelling geniuses "mentally ill", psychiatrists advanced their own interest and gained prestige for their own profession. Though this explanation may sound plausible, it appears too schematic to match a more sophisticated reality. The use of medical diagnosis, which doctors applied to celebrities, may appear to stigmatise, but the motives and consequences of writing medical biographies were undoubtedly more various than the enhancement of narrow medical interests. Besides doctors and their supposed victims, the practice of pathography involved other interested parties including literary critics, educators and the lay public. This was the case of the nineteenth-century pathographies of Dostoyevsky, when, suggesting that the writer was mentally ill, psychiatrists followed into the critics' steps.