J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry doi:10.1136/jnnp-2012-304330
  • Editorial commentary

Eugen Bleuler and evidence-based psychiatry

  1. Stephen M Lawrie
  1. Correspondence to Professor Stephen M Lawrie, Division of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh, Kennedy Tower, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Morningside, Edinburgh EH10 5HF, Scotland UK; s.lawrie{at}
  • Received 13 November 2012
  • Revised 13 November 2012
  • Accepted 14 November 2012
  • Published Online First 19 December 2012

Not so much a pioneer of EVIDENCE BASE MEDICINE as a visionary for evidence-based psychiatry

Stam and Vermeulen1 argue persuasively that Eugen Bleuler (1857–1939) is an unrecognised proponent of evidence-based medicine.2 Bleuler saw the self-absorbed, wish-fulfilling, magical thinking they describe as a fundamental symptom of schizophrenia.3 Rather than suggesting doctors were ill, Bleuler was highlighting the dangers of a medical rigidity of thought and perceptions of infallibility.

Bleuler was of course correct that many remedies of the day were unproven and likely to be ineffective or even dangerous, and that their apparent benefits could be attributed to the enthusiasm of pioneers, suggestion and spontaneous recovery. It is fascinating to read that he was one of the first …

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