On This Day … 15 February

People (Births)

  • 1856 – Emil Kraepelin, German psychiatrist and academic (d. 1926).
  • 1940 – Vaino Vahing, Estonian psychiatrist, author, and playwright (d. 2008).

Emil Kraepelin

Emil Wilhelm Georg Magnus Kraepelin (15 February 1856 to 7 October 1926) was a German psychiatrist. H. J. Eysenck’s Encyclopaedia of Psychology identifies him as the founder of modern scientific psychiatry, psychopharmacology and psychiatric genetics.

Kraepelin believed the chief origin of psychiatric disease to be biological and genetic malfunction. His theories dominated psychiatry at the start of the 20th century and, despite the later psychodynamic influence of Sigmund Freud and his disciples, enjoyed a revival at century’s end. While he proclaimed his own high clinical standards of gathering information “by means of expert analysis of individual cases”, he also drew on reported observations of officials not trained in psychiatry.

His textbooks do not contain detailed case histories of individuals but mosaic-like compilations of typical statements and behaviours from patients with a specific diagnosis. He has been described as “a scientific manager” and “a political operator”, who developed “a large-scale, clinically oriented, epidemiological research programme”.

Vaino Bahing

Vaino Vahing (15 February 1940 to 23 March 2008), was an Estonian writer, prosaist, psychiatrist and playwright. Starting from 1973, he was a member of Estonian Writers Union.

Vaino Vahing has written many articles about psychiatry, but also literature – novels, books and plays with psychiatric and autobiographical influence. He has played in several Estonian films.

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