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Bleuler, Freud and Jung on Dementia Praecox (Schizophrenia) in 1908

The Letter, Issue 40, Spring 2009, Pages 69 - 82

Bleuler, Freud and Jung on Dementia Praecox (Schizophrenia) in 1908[1]

Bernhard Küchenhoff

This paper demonstrates what Bleuler, Freud and Jung had in common in 1908, but it also highlights their theoretical differences in relation to the aetiology of dementia praecox or what Bleuler that year called the “schizophrenias ”. It also reveals that both Bleuler and Freud had questions about Jung ’s diagnosing dementia praecox in Otto Gross and it points out that Freud held Jung responsiblefor Bleuler’s distancing himselffrom the psychoanalytic movement.

Keywords: Bleuler; Freud; Jung; Schizophrenia; Gross

The term “Schizophrenia” was first mentioned by the Swiss psychiatrist, Eugen Bleuler, in 1908. I will concentrate on that year, 1908, in which we find condensed the common interests and fractured relationships between three figures: Bleuler, Freud and Jung, who were so important for the development of psychiatry and psychotherapy. I will focus my remarks on two crystallising points which illustrate the tensions between Bleuler, Freud and Jung: firstly, the discussion about dementia praecox or schizophrenia as a diagnosis and, secondly, the turbulence about Otto Gross in which the question of a diagnosis of dementia praecox played an equally important role.

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