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Kurt Schneider
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Kurt Schneider

Kurt Schneider (1887-1967) was a German psychiatrist known largely for his writing on the diagnosis and understanding of schizophrenia.

Table of contents
1 Biography
2 Contributions to Psychiatry
3 See also
4 References


Schneider was born in Crailsheim in Germany, and trained in medicine in Berlin and Tübingen. He was drafted for military service in World War One and later obtained a postgraduate qualification in psychiatry. In 1931 he became director of the Psychiatric Research Institute in Munich, which was previously founded by Emil Kraepelin.

Disgusted by the developing tide of psychiatric eugenics, championed by the Nazi party, Schneider left the institute and served as an army doctor during World War Two. After the war, anti-Nazi academics were appointed to serve in, and rebuild Germany's medical institutions and Schneider was given the post of Dean of the Medical School at Heidelberg University. Schneider kept this post until his retirement in 1955.

Contributions to Psychiatry

Schneider was concerned with improving the method of diagnosis in psychiatry. Like Karl Jaspers, he particularly championed diagnoses based on the form, rather than the content of a sign or symptom. For example, he argued that a delusion should not be diagnosed by the content of the belief, but by the way in which a belief is held.

He was also concerned with differentiating schizophrenia from other forms of psychosis mental illness, by listing the psychotic symptoms that are particularly characteristic of schizophrenia. These have become known as 'Schneiderian First Rank Symptoms' or simply, 'first rank symptoms'1.

These were

It now seems that 'first rank symptoms' are not a reliable method of diagnosing schizophrenia2, however the term might still be used descriptively by mental health professionals.

See also


1Schneider, K. (1959) Clinical Psychopathology. New York: Grune and Stratton
2Bertelsen, A. (2002) Schizophrenia and Related Disorders: Experience with Current Diagnostic Systems. Psychopathology, 35, 89-93.