Views & Reviews Between the Lines

The man of the crowd

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c753 (Published 08 February 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c753
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    The behaviour of people in crowds is rather different from that of the same people in the privacy of their own homes; so much is obvious. But it was the French doctor, writer, and all round intellectual Gustave Le Bon (1841-1931) who was the first to consider the difference at book length. His Psychology of Crowds, published in 1895, was a founding text of social psychology.

    Le Bon is usually said to have qualified as a doctor in Paris in 1866, though some have disputed whether he ever passed his baccalaureat, let alone his doctorate. Be that as it may, he practised for a time and published widely on such …

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