By Kieran McNally
Schizophrenia used to be twentieth century psychiatry's arch inspiration of insanity. but for many of that century it used to be either challenging and contentious. This background explores schizophrenia's old instability through issues resembling signs, definition, class and anti-psychiatry. In doing so, it opens up new methods of realizing twentieth century madness.
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Additional info for A Critical History of Schizophrenia
In that work, which used as examples 18 definitions of ‘definition’, the author identifies several species of definition. In doing so, he revealed that it has been variously argued that a definition need not necessarily be brief. An intellectual or scientific endeavour might equally work towards a definition, as opposed to commencing with one. And many definitions of the same term might be better than one alone. Furthermore, Robinson observed that it has been maintained that some things are indefinable.
Interestingly, the article goes on to debate the possible existence of a schizoid personality in several past presidents. It quotes the psychiatrist Abraham Arden Brill, addressing the APA, who notes: the marked tendency of the schizoid to a splitting of personality between reality and fancy often leads to an insane condition (ibid). Brill’s reported comments—a merging of Bleuler’s separate theorisation of splitting of personality and thoughts on autism—would have done little to curb the informal conception of schizophrenia (although, admittedly, Brill seems mostly concerned with stoking his fellow professional’s ire by retrospectively diagnosing several past American presidents, including Lincoln, as schizoid).
88). However, Stevenson does not use the words ‘split’ or ‘splitting’ anywhere in the text. Nor does he use the terminology ‘split personality’. Instead he uses the closely related term ‘dissociated’: ‘in the agonised womb of consciousness, these polar twins should be continuously struggling. ’ (Stevenson, 1886/1994, p. 71). The story became a best seller in Great Britain and America, when it was published in 1886. As such, the idea of the Jekyll and Hyde personality quickly passed into popular mythology.