Eugen Bleuler

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Paul Eugen Bleuler (April 30, 1857 – July 15, 1939[1]) was a Swiss psychiatrist most notable for his contributions to the understanding of mental illness and coining the term schizophrenia.

Bleuler was born in Zollikon, a small town near Zurich in Switzerland, to Johann Rudolf Bleuler, a wealthy farmer, and Pauline Bleuler-Bleuler. He studied medicine in Zurich, and later studied in Paris, London and Munich after which he returned to Zurich to take a post as an intern at the Burghölzli, a university hospital.

In 1886 Bleuler became the director of a psychiatric clinic at Rheinau, a hospital located in an old monastery on an island in the Rhine. Rheinau was noted at the time for being backward, and Bleuler set about improving conditions for the patients resident there.

Bleuler returned to the Burghölzli in 1898 to be appointed director, where notably he employed Carl Jung as an intern.

Bleuler is particularly notable for naming schizophrenia, a disorder which was previously known as dementia praecox. Bleuler realized the condition was neither a dementia, nor did it always occur in young people (praecox meaning early) and so gave the condition the purportedly less stigmatising but still controversial name from the Greek roots schizein (σχίζειν, "to split") and phrēn, phren- (φρήν, φρεν-, "mind"). Bleuler treated celebrated Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky after his breakdown in 1919.

Bleuler coined the New Latin word autismus (English translation autism) in 1910 as he was defining symptoms of schizophrenia, deriving it from the Greek word autos (αὐτός, meaning self).[2] According to the Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis by Charles Rycroft, it was Bleuler who introduced the term ambivalence (in 1911).


  1. Eugen Bleuler. URL: Accessed on: May 2, 2007.
  2. Kuhn R; tr. Cahn CH (2004). "Eugen Bleuler's concepts of psychopathology". Hist Psychiatry. 15 (3): 361–66. doi:10.1177/0957154X04044603. PMID 15386868. The quote is a translation of Bleuler's 1910 original.

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