Exploring The History Of Schizophrenia: 9 Facts To Know

Reviewed by Whitney White, MS CMHC, NCC., LPC

Published 06/21/2022

Nowadays, the names of mental illnesses are widely known, and, in some cases, the illnesses themselves are well understood. However, this has not always been the case. Every condition has a history, and this history is something you may not have researched for yourself. This article will discuss the history of schizophrenia, including addressing nine facts that you should know.

Schizophrenia Origin

The term schizophrenia was first used at the start of the 20th century by Eugen Bleuler, who combined the Greek words “schizo” and “phren.” This translates to a split mind, but this is not exactly the meaning that he intended. Essentially, he felt that it referred to people that do not have a stronghold on their thoughts. He was also not the first person to talk about this disorder. An article written in 2015 discusses Bleuler and his work relating to schizophrenia.

Who Discovered Schizophrenia?

The first person that discussed what later became known as schizophrenia was Dr. Emil Krapelin. He was working at a mental health clinic and was noting symptoms in his patients. He called the condition of dementia praecox. Bleuler used the ideas present by Dr. Krapelin to continue to study this issue.

When Was Schizophrenia Discovered?

The condition that we now know as schizophrenia was first officially discovered at the end of the 19th century. However, it may have been present in the days of Ancient Egypt as well, and there is evidence to support this. At the same time, it wasn’t referred to as schizophrenia until 1908.

When Was Schizophrenia First Diagnosed?

Considering the term schizophrenia wasn’t used until the start of the 20th century, it was probably not diagnosed until around the same time.

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9 Facts to Know About Schizophrenia History

Here are some facts about schizophrenia in history.

  1. There Are Still Things We Don’t Know. Even though this condition is more understood than it used to be, there are still many uncertain things. For example, it can be difficult to diagnose because a doctor will be unlikely to see all the symptoms present. Instead, they will have to rely on a person to report their symptoms when asked. These issues are discussed in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience.
  2. Bleuler Believed in Multiple Types Of Schizophrenia. When Bleuler presented his research and thoughts about schizophrenia, he felt that it was more than one disease, as it is not the same in all types. Moreover, he thought that schizophrenia could lead to an additional condition being present.
  3. People with Schizophrenia Symptoms Were Often Subject to Painful Treatments. At one time, patients were given electroshock treatment or even had holes drilled in their heads as a treatment option. During World War 2, some people with schizophrenia were euthanized to wipe out the disorder in Germany. Additionally, over the years, a number of people with schizophrenia were placed in ill-managed mental health asylums or jails instead of receiving the proper treatment that was needed.
  4. Schizophrenia Was Historically Thought of As Someone Being Possessed By Demons. This was a popular thought for many years, but as mental illnesses became better understood, this is no longer the case. People such as Sigmund Freud have led to mental conditions being better understood and able to be treated through psychotherapy.
  5. Schizophrenia Can Cause Issues Within Multiple Aspects ofA Person’s Life. Schizophrenia can impact someone’s ability to go to work, school, and even have a social life. When a person experiences schizophrenia, they may not have control of how they think or act.
  6. Schizophrenia Is Treatable. This condition is treatable and is treated in a few different ways. Some people will see a reduction of symptoms when they follow a well-structured treatment plan.
  7. There Is No Single Cause of Schizophrenia. Even though this illness has been known about and studied for many years, the cause of schizophrenia is unknown. On the other hand, a couple of possible causes are thought to be a genetic connection or a person’s environment.
  8. There May Be 20 Million People That Experience Schizophrenia inthe World. It is thought that 20 million people have schizophrenia around the globe. The numbers in America are around 3.5 million.
  9. Men and Women Experience Schizophrenia at Around the Same Rate. The number of men versus the number of women that have been diagnosed with schizophrenia is similar, but it is thought that symptoms appear in men sooner than women.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

There are a few symptoms of schizophrenia that are commonly found in those experiencing the condition.

  • Hallucinations. A hallucination is when you see or hear things that aren’t real. However, hallucinations can affect any of the senses.
  • Delusions. A delusion occurs when a person believes things that are not the truth. A person with schizophrenia may believe that people are out to get them, even if they don’t have any proof.
  • Not Being Able to Control Thoughts. People that experience schizophrenia may be unable to control their thoughts.
  • Changes in Movement. It is thought that a person with schizophrenia might not have complete control of their motor skills. This can cause them to be unable to sit still or complete tasks.
  • Changes in Speech. Another symptom of schizophrenia is not being able to speak coherently. A person may string words together that don’t make sense.
  • Negative Symptoms. Some symptoms are considered to be negative. These are not being able to feel happiness, not getting through tasks, and no longer keeping up with hygiene.

Treatment Options

If you or someone you know is experiencing schizophrenia, you may want to take this schizophrenia test to find more information. This test isn’t diagnostic or a replacement for evaluation by a mental health professional, but can be helpful in understanding what your symptoms may be indicating.

The two major treatment options available when it comes to schizophrenia are medicines and psychotherapy. These two treatments are usually utilized together.


There are a variety of medicines that are used to treat schizophrenia. The condition has been treated with medicines for many years and still is today. The medicine that is prescribed by a doctor will depend on the symptoms that a person is experiencing. Side effects can also be a big deal in terms of treatment, so this will need to be monitored. If you have been prescribed medicines by your therapist and don’t feel that they are working or have additional symptoms after taking them, be sure to discuss this with your doctor.


Many mental health conditions may be improved using psychotherapy, and schizophrenia is no exception. Whenever this type of therapy is used, it may help someone learn how to think and act differently, which is a big factor when it comes to schizophrenia. Another aspect of therapy for this condition is family therapy. This can assist a person’s family in being supportive and handling situations that may come up during their loved one’s treatment.

How Do I Know If I Need Help?

There are many instances where a person experiences schizophrenic symptomsthat they are not aware of. For this reason, a loved one may be the one that notices these symptoms instead. If someone you care about is experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, it is important to talk to them. You may also want to help them find a doctor to seek treatment with if they are interested. Be sure to be gentle and supportive when you talk to them.

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Another thing to keep in mind is if the person you are concerned about is not taking proper care of themselves or exhibiting suicidal tendencies. When this happens, it may be necessary to seek out help for them. If you notice either of these things, you should contact emergency services in your area or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. They will be able to provide you with additional information on how to help your loved one.


Schizophrenia is a condition that does not have a cure, but there are many helpful treatments available. Starting and staying in treatment are vital to managing symptoms and improving wellbeing. There are options available to you, and there are solid facts that you can read about when it comes to this condition.

If you are concerned about someone you care about and are trying to help them get the support they need, ensure that you treat them with kindness and respect. You can’t make them get treatment, but you can be there for them when they decide to do so.