Journal of the European Society for Gynaecological Endoscopy


John Langdon Down (1828 – 1896)

J. Van Robays1

1Department of Pathology, ZOL, Campus St Jan, Schiepse Bos 6, 3600 Genk, Belgium.

Editing: Sien Ombelet

Correspondence at:


Published online: Jun 30 2016


When John Down was 18 years old, he had some kind of mystical experience. He met a girl that appeared so peculiar, that he felt sorry for her and, consciously or unconsciously, would spend his whole life searching for this phenomenon. He decided to study Medicine, became the director of the largest “Asylum for Idiots” in England and wrote articles and books about the thing that fascinated him so. Anthropometrically and photographically, he delineated a well-defined group of mentally disabled individuals, whose members all resembled the little girl very well. He called them, in concordance with the ethnical insights of the then famous dr. Blumenbach, mongoloid “idiots”. Today they bear his own – more politically correct – name: syndrome of Down.