Jean Sutter (1911-1998)

Thesis: L’epilepsie mentale chez l’indigène Nord-Africain: étude clinique. Thesis (D.M.)–Université d’Alger, 1937. Excerpts PDF

Jean Sutter was born on October 23, 1911 in Algiers.

Sutter was an intern at the hospitals in Algiers and became close friends with fellow student Maurice Porot. He studied psychiatry under Porot’s father and received his doctorate in medicine in 1937. In 1938, he passed the concours du Médicat des Hôpitaux Psychiatriques and was named chef de service of the new hospital Blida Joinville. In 1943, during World War II, he joined the service and was named head of the Centre de Neuropsychiatrie de la Première Armée. Sutter was hit by a shell on April 12, 1945, when he entered Strasbourg during its liberation. He survived due to emergency treatment by Professor Fontaine and underwent multiple surgeries and months of rehabilitation. He lost the use of his right hand and much of his left, although he did learn to write with that hand.

In 1947, Sutter wrote several articles sharing his experience with mental war wounds, on which he is still considered an expert. He also acquired a license in philosophy. In 1949, he became a professor of neuropsychiatry, focusing on pediatric psychiatry on the advice of his mentor Antoine Porot. He pursued further studies in pediatrics in Paris and Montpellier. In Algiers, he organized l’assistance à l’enfance inadaptée (maladjusted youth) and studied, with his colleague Henri Luccioni, the problem of “syndrome de carence d’autorité” (1959).

In 1958, Sutter became the chair of the clinic of neuropsychiatry in Algiers. Maurice Porot then replaced him in pediatric psychiatry. Sutter then left Algiers in 1962 due to the achievement of Algerian independence and moved to Marseille. In 1964, he was nominated chair of the combined neuropsychiatry department but requested that the two fields be split-that the chair belong to neurology but the teaching of psychiatry be independent. He created a “commission d’enseignement” that would serve as a model for most French faculties.

Sutter championed the field of psychiatry and challenged its exclusion as an area of study from the universities. In 1967, he founded les jounées d’Information Psychiatrique. He also founded the Association Latino Méditerranéenne de Psychiatrie with colleagues from Spain and Italy. When he retired in 1980, Sutter left six professors of adult psychiatry and 2 of pediatric psychiatry at the University of Marseille.

After his retirement, Sutter participated actively in the Academy of Medicine, of which he had been a corresponding member since 1975. He continued to participate in many other French and international scientific societies. He also led the Société d’Hyigiène Mentale du Sud-Est and the Institut Méditerranéen d’Etudes et de Recherches Médico-Psychologiques of the Université d’Aix-Marseille. However, he dedicated most of his time to writing articles on his work.

Jean Sutter died on February 22, 1998.


Scotto, Jean-Claude. “Professeur Jean SUTTER (1911-1998).” Santé Maghreb Algérie_Histoire de l’Algérie médicale. Accessed 23 October 2006. [URL no longer available – 24 October 2022]

Biographies of selected authors from the New York Academy of Medicine Collection of International Medical Theses written by Kristin W. Andrews, B.A., M.S.L.S.

Last modified: 10/25/22