International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 3 Num. 2 - December 2003


Schizophrenia: A Conceptual History [Esquizofrenia: Una Historia Conceptual]

Volume 3 Num. 2 - December 2003 - Pages 111-140


German E. Berrios, Rogelio Luque and Jos? M. Villagr?n , ,


The current concept of schizophrenia is regarded as the consequence of a linear progress from different definitions concluding in the present. According to the ?continuity hypothesis? schizophrenia has always existed and 19th and 20th centuries alienists have polished away its blemishes and impurities, culminating in the DSM-IV definition which can therefore be considered as a paragon of a real, recognizable, unitary and stable object of inquiry.
However, historical research shows that there is little conceptual continuity between Morel, Kraepelin, Bleuler and Schneider. Two consequences follow from this finding. One is that the idea of a linear progression culminating in the present is a myth. The other that the current view of schizophrenia is not the result of one definition and one object of inquiry successively studied by various psychiatric groups bat a patchwork made out of clinical features plucked from different definitions. The history of schizophrenia can be best described as the history of a set of research programmes running in parallel rather than serialism and each based on a different concept of disease, of mental symptom and of mind. In this paper some of these programmes are discussed.

Key words:

schizophrenia, psychosis, dementia praecox, conceptual history

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