Ramos Mejía, José María (1849–1914)

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Ramos Mejía, José María (1849–1914)

José María Ramos Mejía (b. 24 December 1849; d. 19 June 1914), Argentine physician, statesman, and intellectual. After studying medicine at the University of Buenos Aires, from which he graduated in 1879, Ramos Mejía promoted the creation of the Asistencia Pública de Buenos Aires, a municipal system of medical care for the needy, becoming its first director in 1883. Appointed professor at the Medical School at the University of Buenos Aires, he specialized in the study of mental pathologies, becoming one of the precursors of scientific psychiatry in Argentina. His first works reflected this interest: Las neurosis de los hombres célebres en la historia argentina (1878–1882); Estudios de patología nerviosa y mental (1893); and La locura en la historia (1895). Elected to Congress, he served as a national deputy (1888–1892) and was subsequently appointed director of the National Department of Health (1893–1908).

The profound social transformations that were taking place in early-twentieth-century Argentina awakened Ramos Mejía's interest in social psychology, as reflected in his works Las multitudes argentinas (1899), influenced by the work of Gustave Le Bon, and Los simuladores del talento (1904). Between 1908 and 1913 Ramos Mejía was in charge of the Consejo Nacional de Educación, where he launched an aggressive campaign to introduce the concept of "patriotic education" (emphasis on civics) in the schools, as a means of strengthening what he thought was a weakened sense of national identity, threatened by the impact of massive immigration.

See alsoArgentina: The Twentieth Century; Medicine: The Modern Era.


Hugo Vezzetti, La locura en la Argentina (1985).

Oscar Terán, ed., Positivismo y nación en la Argentina (1987).

Carlos Escudé, El fracaso del proyecto argentino. Educación e ideología (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Plotkin, Mariano Ben. Argentina on the Couch: Psychiatry, State, and Society, 1880 to the Present. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2003.

                                Eduardo A. Zimmermann

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Ramos Mejía, José María (1849–1914)

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