By Kieran McNally
Schizophrenia was once twentieth century psychiatry's arch suggestion of insanity. but for many of that century it used to be either troublesome and contentious. This background explores schizophrenia's ancient instability through subject matters similar to signs, definition, category and anti-psychiatry. In doing so, it opens up new methods of figuring out twentieth century madness.
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Extra info for A Critical History of Schizophrenia
3). Nevertheless, psychiatry was slowly moving away from the idea of the split personality as representative of schizophrenia. It is possible that the demise of the ‘split personality’ was further due to a perceived need to distinguish schizophrenia from multiple personality. After its ostensible elision into schizophrenia around 1927, multiple personality had re-erupted once again into cultural consciousness in the second half of the twentieth century. This occurred with the 1957 publication of The Three Faces of Eve (Thigpen and Cleckley, 1957) and the eponymous film starring Joanne Woodward, both of which followed an earlier publication by Thigpen and Cleckley (1954) on multiple personality, in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology.
Second, the theorised ‘group of schizophrenias’ was already contracted to schizophrenia for ease of usage. The subtlety of this last point in particular was lost on many psychiatrists. Many would simply see schizophrenia as a singular disease, rather than a group of diseases (Curran and Guttman, 1946). Bleuler also now demoted the idea of the ‘tearing up’ (Zerreißung) of the psychic functions, first expressed in 1908. And he stated that he called dementia praecox schizophrenia because the, ‘splitting’ of the different psychic functions is one of its most important characteristics (Bleuler, 1911/1952, p.
291). In addition to his 1911 comments, Bleuler does express caution. He notes: ‘However, they probably are never completely separated from each other since one may communicate with both’ (1911/1950, p. 147). Yet despite this caveat, the evidence is clearly overwhelming. There can be no mistaking that the idea of schizophrenia exhibiting more than one personality can, in fact, be rooted to Bleuler’s conceptualisation of schizophrenia. And it foreshadows other people’s subsequent usage of schizophrenia in this way.
A Critical History of Schizophrenia by Kieran McNally