The Complex Interplay Between Past Psychiatrists #choosepsychiatry


I thought to write about the complex interplay between past Psychiatrists that I have written about previously. Just to recap Johann Christian Reil (1759-1813) is properly considered to be the father of Psychiatry and he lived during the period of German Romanticism. His seminal work which introduced the concept of Psychiatry was published in 1808.


Interestingly Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) lived in France and was 25 years older than Reil and died 2 years after Reil. Whilst Reil’s approach was esoteric and based on a fundamental and multifaceted theoretical understanding, Mesmer was a celebrity who based his approach on a now discredited theory of animal magnetism and used his social standing to propagate his theory. The end result was that his theory was investigated and refuted by a group of outstanding scientists although his methods eventually gave rise to hypnotism.


Sigmund Freud (bottom left) and Carl Jung (bottom right)

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) had a complex career and initially trained in Neurology under Jean-Martin Charcot. Charcot although noted as an influential Neurologist, specialised in hypnosis and hysteria. This was to be influential on Freud’s later development and here we can see indirectly the influence of Mesmer albeit with his methods transformed into the practice of hypnotism. Freud then went on to develop Psychoanalysis which resulted in a transformation of clinical practice with a fundamentally novel approach to treatment.

Carl Jung (1875-1961) was a student of Sigmund Freud and was 21 years junior to Freud. Jung and Freud had a very public falling out. Shortly after their falling out, Jung became unwell and during this time developed the material for his posthumously published ‘Red Book’. Jung developed his patient-centred approach and his own form of psychotherapy referred to as analytical psychology.


Photo by P.Haack (CC BY 3.0)

Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) developed the foundations of psychopathology with his landmark text (translated as ‘General Psychopathology’) published in 1913. Jaspers was interested in standardising Psychiatric practice and developed this as an academic Psychiatrist with a focus on philosophy. Jaspers was comprehensive in his approach and fully realised the interplay between biological, psychological and social factors. He refers to both Freud and Jung in his work as well as a number of philosophers.


Anna Freud (1895-1982) was the daughter of Sigmund Freud. Together with Melanie Klein she was the founder of child psychoanalysis. Whilst Sigmund Freud had developed the model of the id, ego and superego, Anna Freud was involved in the systematic development of the theoretical understanding of the ego.

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