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Psychology of Dementia Præcox, The


The Psychology of Dementia Præcox dates from the period when Carl Gustav Jung was conducting clinical research at the Burghölzli university clinic in Zürich (1900-1909). Encouraged by Eugen Bleuler, he took an interest in Dementia præcox (schizophrenia) although he had distinguished himself for years through his work using the association test and aimed at acquiring a better comprehension of psychodynamic processes in normal and hysterical subjects. It was first published in book form by Carl Marhold Publishers at Halle.

The work breaks down into five chapters. After a critical review of the existing literature on the subject, Jung starts out from Freudian psychology and his own research and establishes the concept of the complex, demonstrating its general influence on the psyche and the validity of associations. In chapter 4 the author describes the parallels between hysteria and Dementia præcox, their symptoms and their psychodynamic foundations. As an illustration he then provides a complete analysis of a case of paranoid dementia.

In both pathologies Jung discovers one or several complexes in the depths of the patient's being. In the case of hysteria these are linked to the symptoms in an obvious way and have never been completely overcome, while in the case of Dementia præcox they are fixed in a lasting fashion and the causal link with the symptoms cannot be determined. For Jung there was a powerful affect at the beginning of the disease. The author postulates the existence of a factor X, a metabolic toxin for example, that would create a directly harmful effect of the complex, or a predisposing factor, like a sort of organic cerebral disposition.

His most acerbic critics reproached Jung with trying to provide a psychological explanation for an affection with an undeniably organic cerebral origin in order to present an apology for Freud's ideas. But Jung never had any such intention. In any case, his work is perfectly consistent with the research at the Burghölzli asylum, which also helped Bleuler to situate patients' often-incomprehensible symptoms in a meaningful context of individual psychology. Bleuler paid his respects to Jung and to Freud in his important work on schizophrenia.

Bernard Minder

See also: Ego-libido/object-libido; Jung, Carl Gustav; Schizophrenia.

Source Citation

Jung, Carl Gustav. (1907).Über die psychologie der Dementia præcox: ein versuch. Halle, Marhold; Gesammelte werke, vol. 3, Olten-Freiburg in Breisgau: Walter-Verlag, pp. 1-316; The psychology of Dementia præcox. Coll. works, vol. 3, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd.


Bleuler, Eugen. (1908). Dr Wilhelm Stekel, Spezialarzt für Psychotherapie in Wien: Nervöse Angstzustände und ihre Behandlung. Münchner Medizinische Wochenschrift, 32, 1702-1703.

. (1911). The group of schizophrenias (Joseph Zinkin, Trans.) New York: International Universities Press.

Haenel, H. (1908). Literaturkritik. Neurologisches Zentralblatt, 1, 39-40.

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