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J Affect Disord. 2001 Dec;67(1-3):3-19.

Bipolarity from ancient to modern times: conception, birth and rebirth.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Z├╝rich, Zurich, Switzerland.


We review the history of bipolar disorders from the classical Greek period to DSM-IV. Perhaps the first person who described mania and melancholia as two different phenomenological states of one and the same disease was the Greek physician of the 1st century AD, Aretaeus of Cappadocia. The modern concept of bipolar disorders was born in France, with the publications of and. Emil Kraepelin, however, in 1899, unified all types of affective disorders in 'manic-depressive insanity'; in spite of some opposition, Kraepelin's unitary concept was adopted worldwide. In the 1960s, however, the rebirth of bipolar disorders took place through the publications of Jules Angst, Carlo Perris, and George Winokur, who independently showed that there exist clinical, familial and course characteristics validating the distinction between unipolar and bipolar disorders; in addition, they verified several of the corresponding opinions of the Wernicke-Kleist-Leonhard school. The concept of unipolar and bipolar disorders has further advanced in the last three decades: landmark developments include the renaissance of Kraepelin's mixed states and of Kahlbaum's and Hecker's cyclothymia and related affective temperaments, the concept of soft bipolar spectrum (Akiskal), and the distinction of schizoaffective disorders into unipolar and bipolar forms.

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