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Sept 23, 1968


JAMA. 1968;205(13):929-930. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140390053017

Ernst Kretschmer, one of the leading German psychiatrists between the first and second World Wars, established his reputation on studies correlating body build and personality.1 Since the beginning of recorded observations physicians had attributed variations in temperament with the short, stocky habitus vs the thin, tall, delicate structure; whereas others, following Kretschmer's exposition of his flexible postulates on constitution, elaborated and rigidly defined body types beyond his original or later revised concepts.

Kretschmer, proud of his ancestors, was born in Wustenrot in Swabia. His mother was the daughter of a physician and his father a Lutheran minister. He received his early education in a monastery, but upon entering his university studies in Tübingen, he decided against the ministry. In preparing for medicine he acquired a broad cultural background, which included studies in literature, philosophy, and history. His doctorate in medicine was granted in 1913, and the following year he