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Pre-Kraepelin Names for Mental Disorders

Blashfield, Roger K., PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: January 31, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000938
Review Article: PDF Only

Psychiatric classifications before the early 1900s generally are viewed as chaotic and not worthy of analysis. Sixteen different classificatory systems were identified that were pre-World War I and that were pre-Kraepelinian. A total of 827 names were collected from these 16 classifications. As expected, classification unreliability was a problem in these systems. Across the seven American classifications, the average match rate in names was 15% (i.e., 15% of the diagnoses in one system appeared with the same name in another system). The names that were most consistently recognized across these 16 classifications were “mania,” “acute mania,” “chronic mania,” “melancholia,” “general paralysis,” “senile dementia,” “epileptic insanity,” “hysterical insanity,” “moral insanity,” “idiocy,” and “cretinism.” These 11 names summarize 19th century American views of psychopathology.

Department of Psychology, Auburn, Unversity, Auburn, AL.

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