A disappearing heritage: the clinical core of schizophrenia

    194 Citations (Scopus)


    This article traces the fundamental descriptive features of schizophrenia described in the European continental literature form Kraepelin and Bleuler, culminating with the creation of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-8 (1974). There was a consensus among the researchers that the specificity and typicality of schizophrenia was anchored to its "fundamental" clinical core (with trait status) and not to positive psychotic features, which were considered as "state", "accessory" phenomena. The clinical core of schizophrenia was, in a diluted form, constitutive of the spectrum conditions ("schizoidia" and "latent schizophrenia"). The fundamental features are manifest across all domains of consciousness: subjective experience, expression, cognition, affectivity, behavior, and willing. Yet, the specificity of the core was only graspable at a more comprehensive Gestalt-level, variously designated (eg, discordance, autism, "Spaltung"), and not on the level of single features. In other words, the phenomenological specificity was seen as being expressive of a fundamental structural or formal change of the patient's mentality (consciousness, subjectivity). This overall change transpires through the single symptoms and signs, lending them a characteristic phenomenological pattern. This concept of schizophrenia bears little resemblance to the current operational definitions. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, and ICD-10 seem to diagnose a subset of patients with chronic paranoid-hallucinatory variant of schizophrenia.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
    Issue number6
    Pages (from-to)1121-30
    Number of pages10
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011


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