The term schizophrenia was named by Paul Eugen Bleuler, a Swiss psychiatrist, in 1910. It came from the Greek words ‘schizo’ meaning split and ‘phren’ meaning mind.
Bleuler intended to describe schizophrenia as the separation of function between personality, thinking, memory, and perception. However many people at the time didn’t accept that dissociation was an appropriate description, and the term would later have more significance as a source of confusion than scientific meaning.
Bleuler had intended to replace the term dementia praecox which meant dementia of early life. This term was advocated by the German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin, who thought that it occurred only in young people and that it led to mental deterioration. Bleuler disagreed with Kraepelin, because he realized that the illness was not a dementia as some of his patients improved rather than deteriorated, and then changed the name of the illness to ‘schizophrenia’.
A detailed case reported in 1809 by John Haslam concerning James Tilly Matthews is regarded as the earliest cases of schizophrenia in psychiatric literature. Even though Kraepelin was the first person to differentiate the illness from other types of phobias in 1887.
Accounts of schizophrenia-like syndromes are thought to be rare prior to the 19th century, there are still descriptions of an illness resembling schizophrenia that can be found dating back to Egypt in 1550 BC. Archaeologists have also discovered skulls of the Stone Age with burr holes drilled in them which has led many to believe that schizophrenia has been around since mankind.
Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, influenced many psychiatrists to believe that schizophrenia ensued from unconscious encounters that began in childhood. Since Freud, genetic studies, antipsychotic medication, and brain imaging have established that schizophrenia is biological disease of the brain.
The addition of antipsychotic medication have made it so that schizophrenia...