Schizophrenia is currently the most enigmatic and dramatic disease in the psychiatric spectrum. While there are plenty of known aspects about it, the truth is that understanding it is a very complicated task. Many symptoms are known, but researching it from the outside and really truly comprehending the experience is a real challenge. The good news is that current research studies have led to numerous discoveries and advancements in this field. Schizophrenia is no longer impossible to diagnose. However, at this time there is no permanent cure. We can manage the symptoms and often prevent relapse, though.
A Brief History of Schizophrenia
The word schizophrenia was included in the medical dictionary about a century ago. The actual disease was identified a lot earlier though. Doctor Emil Kraepelin was one of the first specialists to mention the affection in medical journals. It wasn’t until 1887 that schizophrenia was described as a discrete mental disease. Despite this, schizophrenia is believed to be much older. In fact, it is said to have accompanied mankind for thousands of years, only it was impossible to describe without our current medical lingo and jargon. Cultural biases led most to consider this a spiritual illness or gift instead of a medical condition.
Schizophrenia was also mentioned in various documents from ancient Egypt, although it had other names. The symptoms were found described in a series of writings dating back around two thousand years ago. Doctors wrote about dementia, depression, sadness and mood changes. They believed that the heart was the mind and vice versa. Therefore, all the obvious symptoms were associated with a heart affection. They were also believed to be caused by the fecal matter, which was said to be a demonic poison. Perhaps it was an imbalance of the humors as well. The understanding of this illness changed with the current medical ideas of the time and locale, leading to a very rich history for schizophrenia.
Old Fashioned Solutions for Schizophrenia
On a different note, no matter how advanced the Roman and Greek specialists were, it seems that none of them has actually managed to spot schizophrenia. They were, indeed, aware of numerous mental disorders and affections. But according to their literature, it seems that no one was aware of the schizophrenia symptoms being related as a cluster, but assigned them to other conditions instead. It is hard to tell whether the respective condition was impossible to diagnose or the symptoms were associated with other problems. One thing is for sure though – it was not known in those societies as a medical problem. There were prophets and oracles though, similar to shamans, who read their internal visions as future predictions. Besides, any mental disorder was simply referred to as an abnormality. It made no difference how simple or severe the symptoms were. All affections were treated in the same manner. Doctors also associated these problems with bodily possessions of evil. Exorcism was the most popular treatment. It implied exposing the patient to all kinds of music, equipments and religious treatments. Many of them were actually deadly. Of course, none of them really worked. Therefore, most patients ended up killed, sadly.
So Who Discovered Schizophrenia? Emile Kraeplin and Eugen Bleuler!
Doctor Emile Kraepelin was one of the first specialists to classify these symptoms into a mental disorder. He called in dementia praecox at the end of the nineteenth century. The current name of the affection was given by Eugen Bleuler – a Swiss expert – in 1911. He also introduced the concept of positive and negative symptoms. He intensively studied the affection and reached to the conclusion that calling this disease dementia was misleading. Fast forward about 100 years and here we are, having made much progress!