Conclusions

The history of schizophrenia can be best described as the history of a set of research programmes running in parallel rather than seriatim and each based on a different concept of disease, mental symptom, and mind. However, only few of these programmes have been discussed in this short chapter.

Historical research shows that there is little conceptual continuity between Morel, Kraepelin, Bleuler, and Schneider. Two consequences follow from this finding. One is that the idea of a linear progression culminating in the present is a myth. The other is that the current view of schizophrenia is not the result of one definition and one object of inquiry successively studied by various psychiatric teams, but is a patchwork made out of clinical features plucked from different definitions. More research is needed to find out what led to this sorry state of affairs.

The continuity story should be rejected because its main role has been not to illuminate the past but to justify the present. Hopefully, the discontinuity history will offer uncommitted researchers alternative ideas, for example that there is no such a thing as a unitary disease called schizophrenia but only a collection of mental symptoms, some congenital, some relics from evolution, and others acquired.

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