Johann Reil: Father of Psychiatry #choosepsychiatry (Updated 28.1.18)


Dr Johann Christian Reil (1759-1813) can be considered as the father of Psychiatry. There is a very good editorial on Reil by Professor Marneros in the British Journal of Psychiatry (Marneros, 2008). Reil created the term Psychiatry in 1808 intending that it would be one of three main branches of medicine alongside pharmacology and surgery. In creating Psychiatry, Reil emphasised the importance of integrating an understanding of the body and the mind – in other words a holistic view of the person. Reil also highlighted the importance of challenging stigma for those with mental illness.

Reil was a polymath who can be considered as one of the founders of Neurology as well as a Physiologist and a practising Physician. Reil is also credited with identifying the Insular Cortex which was referred to as Reil’s Cortex by the anatomist Dr Henry Gray.

Reil died after contracting Typhoid during the course of his work as a Physician in the Napoleonic wars.


Marneros A. Psychiatry’s 200th birthday. Br J Psychiatry. 2008 Jul;193(1):1-3. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.108.051367.

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Disclaimer: The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.

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