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Carl Wilhelm Ideler (1795–1860): a controversial German psychiatrist of the 19th century
  1. K Haack,
  2. E Kumbier
  1. Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Rostock University, Rostock, Germany
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Ekkehardt Kumbier
 Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Rostock University, Gehlsheimer Straße 20, D-18147 Rostock, Germany; ekkehardt.kumbier{at}

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Within the historiography of medicine, Carl Wilhelm Ideler is generally considered to be one of the most controversial German psychiatrists of the 19th century. For many years he was thought to be the epitome of psychiatry’s antiquated, philosophical and speculative side. Yet if we push beyond the dusty facade and examine his work more closely, there are aspects of his thinking worthy of interest.

Ideler was born the son of a pastor on 25 October 1795. In 1811 his uncle, the well-known royal astronomer and mathematician Christian Ludwig Ideler (1766–1846), obtained a place for him to study …

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  • Competing interests: None declared.