A blast from the past

28 Mar

The following comes directly from Kanner (1965):

Questions have arisen, however, with regard to the ease with which the diagnosis was suddenly bestowed upon a relatively vast contingent of patients. Bender, who in 1942 had, as she said, “not seen very many cases in which we could make a definite diagnosis,” announced later that by 1951 “over 600” schizophrenic children had been studied in one single psychiatric unit, that of the Bellevue Hospital in New York. By 1954, she had as many as 850 cases on her list, which means an addition of about 250 in the short span of three years. It is highly improbable that all of them would be acknowledged as being schizophrenic by many other experienced child psychiatrists, and yet it cannot be denied that Bender has made careful investigations and has conscientiously adhered to her established criteria.

Out of this emerges a rather disturbing dilemma. We seem to have reached a point where a clinician, after the full study of a given child, can say honestly: He is schizophrenic because in my scheme I must call him so. Another clinician, equally honest, can say: He is not schizophrenic because according to my scheme I cannot call him so. This is not a reflection on anyone in particular. The whole concept has obviously become a matter of semantics.

It’s an interesting paper where a lot of the same ideas you’d hear today about autism are expressed about schizophrenia, a practically forgotten construct nowadays.


One Response to “A blast from the past”


  1. Rare Genetic Mutations and Schizophrenia - March 28, 2008

    […] autism was once referred to as child schizophrenia, they are different diagnoses; here’s an interesting note about this at Left Brain/Right […]

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