The term “psycholeptic“, was coined by Pierre Janet (1906), who used it for “mental troubles which develop stormily reaching climax sufficiently quickly to constitute a veritable crisis”. Jean Delay (1959a, b) adopted the term for one of the three groups of substances he proposed to classify “psychiatric (psychotropic) drugs” first in 1957, at the Second World Congress of Psychiatry (WPA), and than in 1958, at the First Congress of the Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum (CINP). In their monograph, Méthodes Chimiothérapiques en Psychiatrie, published in 1961, Delay and Deniker defined “psycholeptics” as substances which produce relaxation and depress mental activity; and divided “psycholeptics” into  “depressors of vigilance” and “depressors of affect” (Ban 1969).

Ban TA. Psychopharmacology. Baltimore: William & Wilkins; 1969, p. 368.

Delay J. Intervention à propos de la terminologie et la classification des médicaments psychiatriques.  In: Kline NS, editor. Neuropsychopharmacology Frontiers. New York: Little Brown; 1959a, pp. 426-9. 

Delay J. Discussion: Fourth Symposium. In: Bradley PB, Deniker P, Radouco-Thomas C. Neuropsychopharmacology. Proceedings of the First International Congress of Neuro-Pharmacology. Amsterdam: Elsevier; 1959b, pp. 167-72.

Delay J, Deniker P. MéthodesChimiothérapiques en Psychiatrie. Paris; Masson et Cie; 1961, p.14.

Janet P. The psycholeptic crises.Boston. Med Surg J 1906; 152: 93-100.


Carlos C. Hojaiaj

February 27, 2014