Famous Scientists


Emil Kraepelin

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Emil Kraepelin

Emil Kraepelin was a German psychiatrist who is widely considered to be the founder of modern psychiatry and psychopharmacology. He suggested that the primary origin of psychiatric disease was related to biological and genetic malfunction. Kraepelin also devised a classification system for mental illness that helped shape later classifications.


Early Life and Education:

Born in 1856 in Germany, Emil Kraepelin chose a career in psychiatry when he was only 18 years old. He started studying the influence of acute medical diseases on psychiatric unwellness when he was a third-year medical student. After finishing his medical training in Wurzburg, Germany, he took a position at the Munich Clinic. There, he had a good opportunity to explore brain anatomy, memory and learning.

Kraepelin was awarded his first chairmanship at the age of 30 years in Dorpat.

Contributions and Achievements:

Kraepelin’s differentiation between “dementia praecox” (now schizophrenia) and “manic—depression” (bipolar disorder) was a turning point in the history of psychiatry. He held the belief that biological and genetic disorders cause psychiatric illnesses. He vocally rejected the conflicting approach of Sigmund Freud, who considered and treated mental disorders as secondary to psychological factors.

Kraepelin suggested that the classification of psychiatric diseases should be based on common patterns of symptoms, instead of the mere similarity of symptoms. After his extensive observation of patients, he formulated the outcome, criteria of course and prognosis of mental illness.

Kraepelin’s fundamental concepts on the etiology and diagnosis of psychiatric disorders laid the groundwork for every major diagnostic system of today, particularly the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (1CD) system and the American Psychiatrics Association’s DSM-IV.

Later Life and Death:

The last edition of Emil Kraepelin’s Textbook of Psychiatry was made public in 1927, roughly one year after his death in 1926. It comprised of four volumes and was ten times bigger as compared to the first edition of 1883.


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