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Encephale. 1992 Jan;18 Spec No 1:5-8.

[Development of the manic-depressive concept in German language psychiatry].

[Article in French]


German language psychiatry has had and still has much difficulty in getting rid of the dichotomy of endogenous psychosis as set by Kraepelin. The concept which makes a distinction between schizophrenic psychosis and manic-depressive psychosis grants the former a predominant position by applying Jasper's hierarchic rule: the presence of symptoms regarded as schizophrenic indubitably attributes the disorder to schizophrenia. Such classification, however, does not necessarily imply that schizophrenia and cyclothymia (word proposed by K. Schneider for manic-depressive psychosis) represent separate nosological entities. It is admitted that it is possible for each group to include diseases whose hereditary transmission is not necessarily due to the same genetic predisposition. Thus, German language psychiatry has well accepted the possibility that bipolar manic-depressive psychosis and unipolar depressions represent separate etiologies. For most German-speaking psychiatrists, however, the distinction between endogenous and psychogenic depressions still remains a current assumption. The distinction between these two types of depression is generally made with reference to an "endogenous item profile" or to a depressive endogenomorphous axial syndrome. Only a few authors have accepted the model of continuity between these two types of depression proposed by the London school. The Hamburg school gave a new dimension to the conceptualization of manic-depressive psychosis by drawing attention on the existence of "rapidly alternating mixed states" which are much more common than the stable mixed conditions described by Kraepelin. On the basis of this concept and by questioning the validity of Jaspers' hierarchic rule, the Vienna school has considerably extended the limits of affectives psychosis to the detriment of the wide concept of schizophrenia described by K. Schneider.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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