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Who Discovered Schizophrenia?

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Numerous experts have published a number of reports on schizophrenia and ultimately, all of them have contributed to the discovery of the disease. The first, documented case on schizophrenia was published in 1797. The name of the patient was James Tilly Matthews, who at the time was committed to the Bethlem (Bedlam) psychiatric hospital.

Philippe PinelPhilippe Pinel revolutionized the way mental patients were treated.

Unchained the insane

Records of schizophrenia was also published by Philippe Pinel, a renowned French physician, in 1809. This French physician did pioneering works on the classification of mental disorder and is often considered as the “Father of Modern Psychiatry”. He was born on April 20th, 1745. Initially, he served as a professor at several medical institutions. He also served as the chief physician at the Hospice de la Salpêtrière. He is famous for “freeing the mad from the chains”, so to speak and treating them as patients, not animals. Back in the old days, insane people were often chained as nobody knows what to do with them.

Painting by Robert Fleury of Dr. Philippe Pinel at the Salpêtrière in 1795A great pioneer of humanitarian reform orders the chains removed from patients at the Paris asylum for insane women.

He was interested in metal illness

Philippe Pinel had an active interest in the fields of mental illness. He published several works based on his research on mental illness and some of those works recorded cases similar to schizophrenia. He died on October 25th, 1826. Several other physicians including Bénédict Augustin Morel and Arnold Pick explored the causes and diagnostic of schizophrenia and relating it with several other diseases, although most of these theories were wrong.

Origins of the word Schizophrenia

It was the German physician, Emil Kraepelin who provided a more accurate diagnostic of schizophrenia including the relationship with the brain. Paul Eugen Bleuler, a Swiss physician, was the first person to come up with the term schizophrenia. The word schizophrenia has Greek origins and it literally means, “splitting of the mind”. Before that, the disease was called dementia praecox. Bleuler also described some of its symptoms and distinguished it from dementia praecox.

More on mental health: Discovery of depression.