INFLUENZA AND SCHIZOPHRENIA AN ANALYSIS OF POST-INFLUENZAL “DEMENTIA PRECOX,” AS OF 1918, AND FIVE YEARS LATER

The American Journal of Psychiatry, VOL. 82, No. 4

AJP

Article                          |   April 01, 1926

INFLUENZA AND SCHIZOPHRENIA AN ANALYSIS OF POST-INFLUENZAL “DEMENTIA PRECOX,” AS OF 1918, AND FIVE YEARS LATER

Karl A. Menninger
Am J Psychiatry 1926;82:469-529.

Abstract

Of the psychoses appearing in close conjunction with influenza, as observed during the 1918 epidemic, the schizophrenic syndrome was by far the most frequent. The previous epidemics of influenza occurred prior to Kraepelin’s formulation of “dementia precox,” hence 1918 was the first opportunity afforded for the determination of the relationship of these two widespread afflictions as presently conceived. Because of the almost unequalled neurotoxicity of influenza, it should prove to be a critical test of the pathological basis of schizophrenia.The facts are that of about two hundred acute post-influenzal psychoses at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital, one-third looked like and were labeled “dementia precox”; and follow-up inquiries made one to five years later reveal that of about fifty of these that could be traced, two-thirds had apparently completely recovered, and certainly only ten living cases showed no improvement.This would seem to indicate the need of new diagnostic criteria or new prognostic conceptions (in re reversibility) for the acute schizophrenic syndrome.
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