Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Bleuler's psycho syndrome

Yesterday, we received a small donation: Eugen Bleuler's Lehrbuch der Psychiatrie, third edition, published in Berlin in 1920. Since books of this relative modernity don't fall into the History of Medicine Collection (which is largely restricted to pre-1901 materials), I had not had the opportunity before now to see which of Bleuler's works are currently held in the OHSU collections. I was gratified to see that we have a first edition of the Lehrbuch, and an early English translation of his Theory of schizophrenic negativism. This third German edition of the Lehrbuch will provide us with the original language source to complement the 1924 English edition in our stacks.

Bleuler is best known for his work on schizophrenia; he coined the term in 1908, as he explains, "because (as I hope to demonstrate) the 'splitting' of the different psychic functions is one of its most important characteristics. For the sake of convenience, I use the word in the singular although it is apparent that the group includes several diseases."

It's ironic that for someone who took such care in the development of a term that would accurately reflect the nature of a disease, he has been saddled with an eponymic syndrome that's got to be one of the least medical-sounding conditions out there: Bleuler's psycho syndrome. So sad...

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