A Brief History of Schizophrenia

Mental Disorders / Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

The term schizophrenia was first devised by Eugen Bleuler. Bleuler was a Swiss Psychiatrist who studied medicine and was a professor of psychiatry at the University of Zurich. He is credited as the father of schizophrenia. Born in 1857 in Zollikon, Switzerland, he first wrote a paper in 1908 outlining the different types of Dementia in patients he treated as the director of the Burgholzli Asylum.

history of schizophreniaIn Egypt, there are papyrus writings and drawing that go back as far as 1550BC, showing skulls with holes drilled in them to release the evil spirits inside them. If you dig deeper into the history of schizophrenia you will see that the illness has been around much longer than you would imagine. Greek mythology spoke of madness as a form of punishment from the gods to be inflicted upon the people. Hippocrates used scientific assumption to theorize that schizophrenia was an imbalance of the four personalities: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic. He thought that he could cure a person by changing their diet or even draining some of their blood.

There have been many treatments subscribed by doctors and scientist alike in the early beginnings of schizophrenia. A psychiatrist would induce fevers, perform a prefrontal leucotomy, and electroshock treatments. All of which had no real cure or treatment for the illness. There were some who thought schizophrenia was a hereditary illness. During World War 2, the Nazis put to death countless patients from mental insane asylums all in the name of ethnic cleansing.

Modern-day scientist such as psychiatrist Sigmund Freud has since been able to surmise that schizophrenia is developed in the early stages of childhood growth and widely accepted by others in the field of psychiatry. With the advance of imaging technology and the study of molecular genetics, the scientist has been able to detect schizophrenia earlier than ever before.

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