History

How has schizophrenia been defined throughout history? 

Positive symptoms of schizophrenia, including hallucinations and delusions, have been described throughout ancient Egyptian, Hindu, Chinese, Greek, and Roman writings. Emil Kraepelin, a German physician, was one of the first to classify schizophrenia using the term “dementia praecox”, meaning premature dementia. The term “schizophrenia” was coined by Eugen Bleuler around 1910, and roughly translates to “splitting of the mind”, a term not meant to suggest a split personality, but to describe a separation of psychological functions: cognition, percept and affect. Since then, the definition of schizophrenia has continued to change.

What is the evidence regarding the history of schizophrenia?

Low quality evidence suggests that the general public in ancient Greece and Rome may have had an awareness of psychotic disorders, but no reference is made to a condition that would meet modern diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia. The magnitude of any changes in incidence rates over time is unclear.

January 2019

Last updated at: 12:14 am, 29th March 2019
To view documentation related to this topic download the files below
Fact Sheet Technical Commentary

NeuRA Libraries

Title Colour Legend:
Green - Topic summary is available.
Orange - Topic summary is being compiled.
Red - Topic summary has no current systematic review available.