Henri Laborit

21 Nov 1914
18 May 1995
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Henri Laborit (November 21, 1914 – May 18, 1995) was a French physician, writer and philosopher.

Laborit was born in Hanoi, French Indochina and started his career as a neurosurgeon in the Marines and then moved on to fundamental research.

He won the prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research in 1957. Laborit later became a research head at Boucicault Hospital in Paris.

His interests included psychotropic drugs, eutonology, and memory. He pioneered the use of dopamine antagonists to reduce shock in injured soldiers.

His observation that people treated with these drugs showed reduced interest in their surroundings led to their later use as antipsychotics. He was also the first researcher to study GHB, in the early 1960s.

He hoped that it would be an orally bioavailable precursor to the neurotransmitter GABA, but it proved to have other uses and was later discovered as an endogenous neurotransmitter.

He appeared in the 1980 Alain Resnais film Mon oncle d’Amérique, which is built around the ideas of Laborit and uses the stories of three people to illustrate theories deriving from evolutionary psychology regarding the relationship of self and society.

This movie includes short sequences of rat experiments that are used to illustrate the behaviors of some of the characters in different situations (such as inhibition in the action ).

The French-born American market researcher Clotaire Rapaille considered Laborit to be an important influence in his work.

The 1991 Italian film Mediterraneo begins with a quote from Laborit which, translated, means “In times like these, escape is the only way to stay alive and keep dreaming.”

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