Back to overview

Eugen Bleuler's schizophrenia: a modern perspective

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Review article (peer-reviewed)
Author Maatz Anke, Hoff Paul, Angst Jules,
Project "Schizophrenie": Rezeption, Bedeutungswandel und Kritik eines Begriffes im 20. Jahrhundert. Ein interdisziplinäres Projekt.
Show all

Review article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience
Title of proceedings Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience


The introduction of the term and concept schizophrenia earned its inventor, Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler, worldwide fame. Prompted by the rejection of the main principle of Kraepelinian nosology, namely prognosis, Bleuler’s belief in the clinical unity of what Kraepelin had described as dementia praecox required him to search for alternative characterizing features that would allow a scientific description and classification. This led him to consider psychological, and to a lesser degree, social factors alongside an assumed underlying neurobiological disease process as constitutive of what he then termed schizophrenia, thus making him an early proponent of a bio-psycho-social understanding of mental illness. Reviewing Bleuler’s conception of schizophrenia against the background of his overall clinical and theoretical work, this paper provides a critical overview of Bleuler’s key nosological principles and links his work with present-day debates about naturalism, essentialism and stigma.