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April 1972

Developmental Arrest and RegressionA Reappraisal of the Dementia Praecox Concept

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Tufts University School of Medicine, and the Boston State Hospital, Boston.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1972;26(4):321-325. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1972.01750220031006

Kraepelin's formulation of dementia praecox is reviewed, with the irrelevant and misleading ontological conception of disease, dissected away, to restore his fruitful emphasis on a characteristic tendency toward developmental arrest and regression that produces the picture of deterioration, ie, "dementia." Bleuler's valuable contributions of a biographic approach and wide nosological expansion to include virtually all the functional psychoses are considered. His attempt to apply a psychoanalytic interpretation based principally on symptom analysis and associationism, in the schizophrenia concept, is rejected as premature. A psychoanalytic, characteriological approach along developmental lines that can be integrated with Kraepelin's original formulation is now possible in view of advances in psychoanalytic observation and theory over the past 60 years.