Gudden, Johann Bernhard Aloys von

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Gudden, Johann Bernhard Aloys von

(b. Cleves, Germany, 7 June 1824; d. Lake Starnberg, near Schloss Berg, Germany, 13 June 1886)

psychiatry, neuroanatomy.

Gudden was the third of seven sons of Johannes Gudden, a landed proprietor in Lower Rhineland, and Bernhardine Fritzen. His feeling for exact observation and his aptitude for study became evident at an early age. After passing the final secondary school examination in the fall of 1843, he studied medicine in Bonn, Halle, and Berlin, where he passed the state medical examination with distinction in 1848. His dissertation, Quaestiones de motu oculi humani (1848), dealing with one of his fields of later research, revealed the originality of his investigations. It is possible that during his student years he was already in contact with the heads of psychiatric institutions, such as Maximilian Jacobi at Siegburg, near Bonn; August Damerow at Nietleben, near Halle; and Karl Wilhelm Ideler at the Charité in Berlin. Entry into the field of psychiatry was possible only through these institutions; the subject was rarely treated separately in the universities.

In 1849 Gudden obtained a position at the Siegburg asylum as an intern under Maximilian Jacobi, one of the leading German somatic psychiatrists. He married the latter’s granddaughter Clarissa Voigt in 1855; they had nine children. From 1851 to 1855 Gudden worked with Wilhelm Roller at Illenau, a hospital known even outside Germany for its outstanding organization.

In 1855 Gudden was appointed director of the newly founded Werneck asylum near Würzburg. He supervised the transformation of the baroque palace, built by Balthasar Neumann, into Germany’s most modern asylum; this achievement earned him a reputation as an excellent organizer. In the treatment of the mentally disturbed he rejected the methods of the older psychiatric schools at Siegburg and Illenau. Despite their humane conceptions these schools had continued the use of physical force and believed that “moral influence” and “educational” strictness were beneficial. An advocate of the principle of no restraint, Gudden championed, earlier than Wilhelm Griesinger and Ludwig Meyer, a liberal and humane orientation in the treatment of the mentally ill. Going beyond even John Conolly, he granted his patients an unprecedented measure of personal freedom. He insisted that proper treatment required communal social life for the patients, constant contact between physicians and patients, and a well-trained staff with a strong sense of duty.

In his articles “Ueber die Entstehung der Ohrblutgeschwulst” and “Ueber die Rippenbrüche bei Geisteskranken,” Gudden demonstrated that reddening of the ears, rib fractures, and bedsores (which he considered an attendant symptom of mental illness, produced by injury to the “trophic nerve”) were the consequences of mechanical therapy and insufficient care.

In 1869 Gudden became director of the recently constructed cantonal mental hospital in BurghöIzli, near Zurich, and professor of psychiatry at the University of Zurich. Following the death of August Solbrig in 1872 he was named director of the district mental hospital in Munich; his practical talents were decisive in gaining him this appointment. Soon afterward he was also named professor of psychiatry at the University of Munich. The hospital, built by Solbrig in 1859, was enlarged and reorganized under Gudden’s supervision, as was a second institution in Gabersee in 1883. Both were distinguished by the rational arrangement and distribution of their facilities. From 1870 Gudden was a coeditor of the Archiv für Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten. He was ennobled in 1875.

In 1886, after he and other psychiatrists had examined records pertaining to the case, Gudden gave his opinion on the mental illness of Ludwig II of Bavaria. They diagnosed it as paranoia (what would now be called the paranoid form of schizophrenia). On the basis of this diagnosis, the king was relieved of all official duties. On 12 June 1886 he was taken by Gudden, who treated him with great consideration, to Schloss Berg, on Lake Starnberg, which was to serve as the king’s residence. The following morning Gudden took a quiet walk with the king; they were accompanied by several attendants. That evening, at about 6:30, Gudden went for another walk with the king, this time without attendants. A few hours later both were found drowned in the lake, not far from the shore. (The evidence leaves little doubt that during the walk Ludwig suddenly ran into the shallow lake and that Gudden followed in order to restrain him; the powerful forty-year-old king then probably overpowered Gudden and drowned himself.)

In an early work, Beitärage zur Lehre von den durch Parasiten bedingten Hautkrankheiten (Stuttgart, 1855) Gudden conclusively verified through skillful clinical observations that scabies is a parasitic disease caused by mites. His major scientific work was, however, in three fields: care of the mentally ill, craniology, and cerebral anatomy. The last two were closely related, both by common experimental procedures and by the results obtained.

Through his practical work as well as through his publications on treatment of the mentally ill, most of which dealt with hospital administration, Gudden contributed significantly to liberating mental patients from treatment by physical force. In therapy his main concerns were that the hospital be rationally organized, that the personnel be properly trained, and that the curable—and even the incurable—patients be able to move about as freely as possible. Gudden’s research did not deal with clinical psychopathology, an area which was investigated by his student Emil Kraepelin. Gudden was skeptical of systematic reflections that went beyond the individual case. In nosology he followed Griesinger’s classification.

Gudden published his Experimentaluntersuchungen über das Schädelwachstum in 1874. In this work he showed that the growth of the cranium is essentially the result of interstitial processes; and he discovered that when sense organs and parts of the brain are extirpated, the cranial bones are also affected.

In cerebral anatomy, too, Gudden used extirpation in his research. Building on the observations of Ludwig Türck and Augustus Waller on secondary degeneration, he developed, through an ingenious combination of anatomical and experimental pathological investigations, the “Gudden method.” By systematically destroying, on one side only, parts of the nervous system and of the brain in a newborn animal, he was able to induce atrophy of the conducting paths and centers; this made it possible, by means of a comparative examination of the two sides in the full-grown animal, to determine the functions of nerve fibers and nuclei. This method, which is still in use, allowed him to classify nerves that had previously been considered anatomically and physiologically similar into separate systems according to function and origin. Thus Gudden was the first to set and origin. Thus Gudden was the first to set forth many of the neuroanatomical facts generally accepted today concerning the paths, origins, and termini of the nerves, as well as many concerning the nuclei of the cranial nerves (the crossing of the optic nerve, the tractus opticus, the fornix, corpus mamillare, interpeduncular ganglion, and nuclei of the nerves of the eye muscle, among others). During his years in Munich he amassed, with his “Gudden microtome” (later improved by Auguste Forel), one of the world’s largest collections of brain-tissue preparations.

Gudden was very cautious in drawing physiological conclusions from his research. He confined himself for the most part to recording morphological data, which he constantly reexamined under altered experimental conditions. His writings are characterized by their conciseness and by a wealth of carefully observed details. It took some time, however, for the scientific reliability of his findings to be recognized. He lacked the kind of intuitive inspiration possessed by, for instance, Theodor Meynert, whose research on cerebral anatomy he approved. Gudden’s students Emil Kraepelin, Franz Nissl, Auguste Forel, and Sigbert Ganser all described him as having a commanding and magnetic personality. At the time of his death he was editing the results of his neuroanatomical research, the majority of which were still unpublished.


I. Original Works. Gudden’s writings include Quaestiones de motu oculi humani (Halle, 1848), his diss.; “Das Irrenwesen in Holland,” in Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie, 10 (1853), 458–480; “Zur relativ verbundenen Irrenheilund pflegeanstalt,” ibid., 16 (1859), 627–632; “Über die Entstehung der Ohrblutgeschwulst,” ibid., 17 (1860), 121–138; 19 (1862), 190–220; 20 (1863), 423–430; Beitrag zur Lehre von der Scabies, 2nd ed. (Wü rzburg 1863); Der Tagesbericht der Kreisirrenanstalt Werneck (Würzburg, 1869); “Ueber einen bisher nicht beschriebenen Nervenfaserstrang im Gehirin der Säugenthiere and Menschen,” in Archiv für Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten, 2 (1870), 364–366; “Anomalien des menschlichen Schädels,” ibid., 367–373; “Ueber die Rippenbrüche bei Geisteskranken,” ibid., 682–692; “Experimentaluntersuchungen über das Schädelwach sthum (Munich, 1874); “Ueber die Kreuzung der Fasern im Chiasma n. optici,” in Albrecht von Graefes Archiv fÜr Ophthalmologie, 20 , no. 2 (1874), 249–268; 21 no.3 (1875), 201–203; 25 , no. 1 (1879), 1–56; 25, no. 4 (1879), 237–246; “Ueber ein neues Mikrotom,” in Archiv für Psychiatrie und Nevenkrankheiten, 5 (1875) 229–244; “Ueber den Tractatus peduncularis transversus,” ibid., 11 (1881), 415–423; “Mittheilung über das Ganglion interpedunculare,” ibid., 424–427; “Ueber zwei verschiedene Fasersysteme im N. opticus,” in Tageblatt der Eisenacher Naturforscherversammlung (1882) 307–310; “Ueber das Corpus mamillare and die sogenannten Schenkel des Fornix,” in Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie, 41 (1884) 697–701; “Ueber die neuroparalytische Entzündung,” ibid., 714–715; Jahresbericht der Kreisirrenanstalt München (1885); “Ueber die Sehnerven, den Sehtractus, etc.,” in Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie, 42 (1885) 347–348; “Ueber die Einrichtung von sogenannten Ueberwachungsstationen,” ibid., 454–456; and “Ueber die Frage der Lokalisation der Functionen der Grosshirnrinde,” ibid., 478–497. Other articles are in Korrespondenzblatt für schweizer Ärzte (1871), no.5; (1872), no. 4; and in Ärztliche Intelligenzblatt (1884).

R. Grashey collected and edited Gudden’s published and unpublished works on cerebral anatomy in the lavishly illustrated B. v. Gudden. Gesammelte and hinterlassene Abhandlungen (Wiesbaden, 1889).

II. Secondary Literature. On Gudden or his work, see Sigbert Ganser, in Theodor Kirchhoff, ed., Deutsche Irrenärzte, II (Berlin, 1924), 47–58; Hubert Grashey, “Nekrolog auf Bernhard von Gudden,” in Archiv für Psychiatrieund Nervenkrankheiten,17 (1886), i-xxix; and “Nachtrag zum Nekrolog,” ibid., 18 (1887), 898; Ernst Grünthal, in Kurt Kolle, ed., Grosse Nervenärzte, I (Stuttgart, 1956), 128–134; Emil Kraepelin, “Bernhard vort Gudden, ein Gedenkblatt,” in Münchener medizinische Wochenschrift, 33 (1886), 577–580, 603–607; H. Laehr, in Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie, 43 (1887), 177–186; Franz Nissl, “Bernhard von Guddens hirnanatomische Experimentaluntersuchungen,” in Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie 51 (1895), 527; James W. Papez, in Webb Haymaker, ed., The Founders of Neurology (Springfield, III., 1953), pp. 45–48; E. Rehm, “König Ludwig II. und Professor Gudden,” in Psychologische neurologische Wochenschrift, 38 (1936), 45; Hugo Spatz, “Bernhard von Gudden,” in Münchener medizinische Wochenschrift, 103 (1961), 1277–1282; and Wallenberg, in Archiv für Psychiatrie, 76 (1925), 21–46.

Hans Henning Schroth