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KaSP - Schizophrenia history

Schizophrenia is believed to have accompanied mankind through history. However, it took until 1887 before the disease was given its own identity by Dr. Emile Kraepelin in 1887.

The disease is mentioned in documents that can be traced to the ancient Pharaonic Egypt. At that time it was supposed that mental disorders, in general, were caused by an evil possession of the body, and as a consequence, the appropriate treatment was exorcising of demons.

The German physician, Emile Kraepelin was the first to classify mental disorders into various categories. He used the term "dementia praecox" for individuals with symptoms that we now associate with schizophrenia.

Eugen Bleuler, a Swiss psychiatrist, changed the name of the disease to "schizophrenia" in 1911 since it was obvious that Kraepelin's name “dementia praecox” was misleading. The name schizophrenia originates from the Greek roots “schizo” (split) and “phrene” (mind) and was ment to reflect the disoriented thinking of individuals with the disorder. Bleuler was also the first to describe the symptoms of the disease terms of "positive" or "negative." The disease is nowadays defined according to the criteria of DSM-5.

For many years effective pharmacological treatment was lacking. The first medicines were developed during the 1950s, one of the first was haloperidol (1958). This drug was one of several substances known as the first-generation antipsychotics, and many of these drugs are still in use. During the 1970s new drugs with more beneficial side effects were introduced, for example, clozapine, known as one the most efficient antipsychotics.