Thomas A. Ban
Neuropsychopharmacology in Historical Perspective

Psychopharmacology and the Classification of Functional Psychoses


6. One- and Two-Dimensional Diagnoses

Conceptual Development


       Diagnoses of functional psychoses are based on descriptive characteristics. Originally, these characteristics were restricted to cross-sectional psychopathology, but by the end of the 19th century they included characteristics of the course  (two-dimensional) and the final stage of the illness (three-dimensional), referred to as outcome or end-state.

       The perspective of supplementing descriptive-psychopathological symptoms with biological measures opened unforeseen possibilities. Introduction of paper, liquid and gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and radio-immuno-assay, rendered measurement of biochemical changes in the CNS accessible to laboratory investigations. Supplementing traditiona1 electroencephalography  with  nuclear magnetic resonance measures, X-ray transmission tomography and positron emission tomography rendered the examination of  specific  brain  sites possible (Buchsbaum, Ingvar, Kessler et al. 1982;  Gur 1985; Hendrie 1985; Mathew 1985; Nasrallah and Coffman 1985).Yet, the meaningfulness of findings with these sophisticated measures was dependent on whether they could be linked to a pharmacologically homogeneous patient group.

       In the following the conceptual deve1opment of classification(s) relevant to functional psychoses will be outlined.


One-Dimensional Diagnosis: Concept of Psychosis

       In spite of its extensive use, there is no generally accepted definition for the term "psychosis." In everyday psychiatric parlance it refers to mental illness of sufficient severity to produce conspicuously disordered behavior with lack of insight. The behavior of “psychotic” patients cannot be understood as an exten­sion or exaggeration of ordinary experiences (Leigh, Pare and Marks 1972).

       Jaspers (1913a, 1959, 1963)  used  the  term “psychosis” in  reference  to  diseases which "seize upon the individual as  a whole,” whereas in the United States the term was  employed primarily in reference  to  patients  with hallucinatory experiences, delusional thinking and/or catatonic symptoms.

       An important contribution to the development of the term was made by Schneider (1959). He contended that the term “psychosis” should be used only to designate psychopathological manifestations which   are the consequence of a disease process. His concept of “psychosis” corresponds with Jaspers' (1963)   notion that psychoses are “disease processes, regardless whether they are hereditary disorders beginning at certain times of life or called into being by exogenous lesions.”

       The concept of psychosis put forward by Jaspers and Schneider was operationalized by Fish (1974). In Fish's definition the characteristic fea­tures of   “psychosis” include lack of insight, distortion of the whole person­ality (by the illness), construction  of  a  false  environment  (out  of  subjective experiences), gross  disorder   of  basic  drives  (including that  of  self-preservation)  and  inability  to  make  a  reasonable  social  adjustment  (Hamilton 1974). In the KDK Budapest (Pethö, Ban, Kelemen et al. 1984), psychosis is defined as a non-specific syndrome characterized by lack of “insight” and psychopathological symptoms of sufficient severity to disrupt everyday functioning. The collapse of customary ways of social life may lead to hospitalization.

       Distinctly different from “psychoses” are “psychic deviations which do not wholly involve the individual” (Jaspers 1963). They include patients whose personality is only in part affected, who can distinguish between   their subjective experiences and reality and who do not construct a   false environment (Hamilton 1976). In diagnostic terms, “psychic deviations” include “personality  disorders,” i.e., variations of  human  existence  which  differ  from  the  norm  quantitatively rather  than  qualitatively, and “neuroses, i.e.,  reactions  of  abnormal  personalities  to  moderate  or  mild  stress   and  reactions  of  normal  personalities to  severe stress (Schneider 1959).

       “Psychosis” without any qualification is a diagnosis only within a one-dimensional model of classification, i.e., a   classification which is based exclusively on cross-sectional assessment of psychopathology. Accept­ing “psychosis” as the endpoint yields a one-dimensional treatment modality with antipsychotic-neuroleptic   drugs. The underlying assumption is that the different forms of illness are different stages of one and the same disease (psychosis) process (Neumann 1859) and consequently can be controlled by one and the same (or pharmacologically similar) medication.

       Today (mid-1980s) there are at least 19 antipsychotic drugs available for the treatment of “psychosis” in the United States and about 12 more around the world. Structurally most   of  these drugs  are  secondary  or  tertiary amines  containing  at  least  one  aromatic  ring  linked to an amine  by an intermediate  chain; and pharmacologically most of these drugs are active inhibitors of apomorphine-induced vomiting in dogs, amphetamine-induced stereotypic chewing and non-stereotypic agitation in rats and  epinephrine- and NE-induced mortality in rats. They also inhibit intracranial self­-stimulation and conditioned operant behavior in all laboratory animals. At somewhat higher   doses, traditional neuroleptics induce cataleptic immobility with a reduction of spontaneous motility and indifference towards the environ­ment. And at an even  higher doses, they induce ptosis, ataxia, pro­stration and other signs of CNS depression (Janssen 1973).

       The  most consistent  finding  following chronic (l to 3 weeks) antipsychotic administration is a dopamine (DA)2 receptor  blockade  and  a consequent  increase  in  the  number, with  a  decrease  in  the  affinity, of  these  receptors  in  the  striatum  and mesolimbic areas  (Burt, Creese and Snyder 1977; Muller  and Seeman 1977, 1978; Theodorou, Gommeren,  Chow   et  al. 1981). Therefore, one may hypothesize that the biochemical substrate of psychosis is in the DA structures of the limbic lobe. At variance with this contention, are findings in clinical psychopharmacological studies which suggest that there is a differential thera­peutic response in psychotic patients to antipsychotic drugs. Although antipsychotics undoubtedly are the most effective treatment for psychoses, some psychotic patients remain refractory to antipsychotic drugs and require other treatment modalities for control. Since a differential therapeutic response indicates biological heterogeneity, the findings of a differential therapeutic response are in line with the contention that psychosis consists of more than one diagnostic groups.


Organic vs Functional

       Conceptual separation of “organic” from “functional” psychoses represents the first meaningful dichotomy within psychiatry. The adjective “organic” implies that the psychosis is intrinsically linked, if not exclusively the result of systemic, including neurological disease. On the other hand, the adjective “functional” implies that the psychosis is a result of a sui generis psychiatric illness in which there is a primary dysfunction in the operation and performance of the brain. This is in accordance with other branches of medicine   in which a “functional disorder” refers also to a primary dysfunction with an unidentified structural change. As the concept of “functional  psychosis” assumes a structural change, Schneider's (1959) “somatogenic postulate” is based on the belief that  “functional psychoses are always  of somatic origin” even if the  cause is not known and/or the morphological substrate has not been identified (Pichot 1983).

       Conceptual separation of organic from functional psychoses was a significant   step in the development of psychiatry. It opened the possi­bility to identify cross-sectional    psychopathological    syndromes which indi­cate organicity with a high level of probability. This in turn yielded etiology-based diagnoses and causal treatment in some of the organically determined psychoses.

       With   the   decrease  in   the  prevalence  of “organic psychoses” in  the  adult  psychiatric population, by the virtual  elimination  of  “general paralysis of the insane (GPI), a form of  cerebral syphilis”   which  once  constituted 10% of  all hospitalized  psychiatric patients, there  has  been  a  shift in  the proportion of patients  in  adult psychiatry from  the  organic  to  the  functional psychoses during the 1950s and 1960s.

       The shift in the proportion of patients from “organic” to “functional” was followed by a shift in the site of psychiatric care from hospital to community. It was this shift, coupled with the emergence of “psychodynamic psychiatry,” that   focused attention on “anxiety disorders.” Intro­duction of propanediols (meprobamate) first and, subsequently, benzodiazepines (chlordiazepoxide), rendered anxiety disorders accessible to biological research (Berger 1954, 1957, 1964; Sternbach 1972; Tobin and Lewis 1960).                  


Acute Exogenous Predilectional Types

       Separation of organic from functional psychoses provided the necessary orientation points for Karl Bonhoeffer (1909) to develop his concept of “acute exogenous psychoses,” i.e., psychoses associated with and/or the result of systemic disease. Within Bonhoeffer's frame of reference “exogenous psychoses” are non-specific secondary manifestations of systemic disease and as such distinct from sui generis psychiatric disorders.

       Bonhoeffer's concept of “exogenous predilectional  types” is based on the  recognition  that   psychotic reactions   associated  with    systemic  disease appear  in  one  of four forms:

1. delirium which may occasionally  be  dis­guised  by  hallucinosis  as  the  dominant  clinical  feature;

2. epileptiform reactions   which  may  present as  states  of  anxious  or  frenzied  motor  excitement, or alternatively as  quiet, affectless twilight  states;

3. stupor; and 

4. confusional states which may show hallucinatory, catatonic, or dissociative features.

       Since similar reactions  may  occur  in  association  with  different  illnesses and  the  course  of  illness is not determined by the presenting clinical pic­ture, Bonhoeffer maintained that the prevailing psychopathological syndrome reflects a specific  predisposition which does not provide interpretable clues for an etiological understanding of the  disease.

       Bonhoeffer's concept of “acute exogenous psychoses” is subsumed under the heading of “symptomatic psychoses” in the British literature. The typical obligatory feature of these psychoses  is disturbance of conscious­ness that may become manifest in altered states of consciousness, e.g., delirium that may accompany acute disease or in “lowered states of consciousness” which vary in degree from “daze” (Benommenheit), frequently experienced in the common cold, to “coma,” i.e.,  loss of consciousness seen in  enteric  fever,  septicemia.

       In the psychoses caused by subacute and chronic illness, consciousness is less clouded or may even be clear. This condition has been differentiated from delirium and referred to “confusional state.” It is also referred to as “amentia” in German psychiatry and as  “subacute delirious state” in British psychiatry (Mayer-Gross, Slater and Roth 1960). Other, atypical-facultative manifestations of exogenous psychoses are dependent on a general or a specific predisposition. The   development of a transient catatonic, hyperthymic, dysthymic or amnestic syndrome is attributed to a general predisposition, while the development of a transient schizophreniform, paranoid or hallucinatory reaction to a special predisposition. The resultant “atypical forms” with full recovery (reversibility) are referred to as “transient organic syndromes” (Durchgangsyndrome) by Wieck (1956, 1957).

       All these different typical and atypical forms of disease may terminate in full recovery or yield to 1. organic neurasthenia, also referred to as irritable debility or emotional hyperesthesia, 2. Korsakoff’s amnestic syndrome or 3.  generalized dementia (Nyiro 1962). Organic neurasthenia provides the link between acute exogenous (symptomatic) psychoses with prevailing delirium and the subacute and the chronic exogenous (organic) psychoses with prevailing dysmnesia and/or dementia (Table 1).


Table 1

Area of Psychopathology





1. Disorders of Consciousness

      Lowered vigilance

          Decreased Clarity



      Clouded Consciousness



      Narrowed consciousness           






2. Disturbances of Orientation









3. Disorders of Memory













4. Dementia









The area of psychopathology (+) prevailingly affected in acute, subacute and chronic organic psychoses.


Delirium, Dysmnesia and Dementia

       Recognition  that the continuous presence of traumatic biological factors may result in dementia threw light on Bayle’s (1822, 1825, 1826) thesis that persistence of “arachnitis” (during the third and final stage in the  development of general paralysis) yields to dementia in patients. It also brought to attention some of the early contributions of Pinel (1801). In his classification of psychiatric disorders, he was the first to employ the term “dementia” to describe illnesses which lead to intellectual deterioration. The conclusive distinction between “inborn idiocy” and “acquired dementia” was made by Esquirol (1838) almost 40 years later.

       It was the early 19th century French school of psychiatry which had delineated the essential psychopathological features that result from persistent (chronic) brain damage. However, the findings of the French school became meaningfully interpretable only after the determination that “delirium” is  the essential psychopathological features of acute biological trauma by the early 20th century German school.

       Integration of the contributions of the two schools yields the still prevalent position that delirium, dysmnesia and dementia indicate the presence of somatic factors in the etiology of psychotic disease with a high level of probability. The three  “Ds” provide the necessary clues for the separation of organic psychoses with psychopathological manifestations prevailingly in the connecting function, such as consciousness, memory and personality, from the functional psychoses with psychopathological manifestations prevailingly in the perceptual­ cognitive, relational-affective and motor-adaptive functions, such as perception, thoughts, emotions, mood and motor behavior. Identification of the differential psychopathological  features involved in  organic and  functional psychopathologies and recognition of the relationship between  brain structures and the sites of psychopathology has raised considerations that in case of non-specific organic psychopathology the primary impairment responsible for the psychopatholo­gical  changes might be in  the  reticular formation and  temporal lobe structures intrinsically linked with  connecting functions, whereas, in case  of  specific functional psychopathology  the primary  impairment  responsible for  the  psycho­pathological changes  might  be  in  limbic  lobe  structures  in general  and  in  frontal, parietal, temporal  and/or  occipital  structures  in  particular, intrinsically linked with relational affective, motor-adaptive and perceptual-cognitive function­ing.


Two-Dimensional Diagnoses

       Differentiation between functional and organic (exogenous) psychosis cannot be made within a one-dimensional model   of classification. It can be made only within a two-dimensional model because cross-sectional psychopathological symptom profiles do not suffice. They need to be supplemented with information on the form of onset and   antecedent etiological event(s), (biologic factors) such as somatic illness or brain disease, for the interpretation of findings. The presence of somatic illness (including brain disease) immediately prior to or at the onset of psychosis, however, does not exclude the possibility that the psychosis is functional in nature. The same applies when the somatic illness and the mental disturbance do not run a parallel course (Pethö, Ban, Kelemen et al. 1984). Recognition of functional and organic psychoses divides the psychotic population into two major groups and only in one of these two populations, in functional psychosis, are antipsychotic drugs the primary treatment of choice. In the organic psychoses  treatment should be directed against the etiology of the disease, e.g., nicotinic acid in case of pellagra, neurosurgery in case of brain tumor.

       In patients with organic psychosis causal treatment may need to be supple­mented transiently by the administration of an antipsychotic drug. The use of antipsychotics as primary treatment, within a two-dimensional model of psychiatric classification, is restricted to patients with functional psychosis (Table 2).


Table  2 

Functions Affected




1. Connecting Functions






2. Perceptual-Cognitive





3. Relational-Affective






4. Motor-Adaptive





The area of psychopathology(+) prevailingly affected in organic and functional psychoses.


Functional Psychosis: Reactive vs Endogenous

       There are two distinct populations in functional psychoses.            One population is conventionally referred to as autochthonous, or endogenous, and the other as reactive, or psychogenic.

       Psychic reactions arising from conflictua1 experiences and external events are exogenous, whereas phases and processes arising from inner causes without an external event are endogenous (Jaspers 1963). Within this frame of reference, the concept of endogenous psychosis, which has its origin in Morel's (1857, 1860) teachings, implies an innate genetic biological defect, while the concept of psychogenic or reactive psychosis implies the presence of a psychic trauma (Pichot 1983).


Psychogenic (Reactive) Psychosis 

Conceptual Development

       The diagnostic concept of psychogenic psychosis has evolved through the work of the Danish psychiatrists Wimmer (1916), Faergeman (1945, 1963), Strömgren (1968, 1974) and Retterstal (1978). In the integration of the concept with main-stream psychiatry, Jaspers’ (1913a,b) criteria of “pathological reaction” played an important role. Accord­ing to Jaspers, to fulfill the criteria of pathological reaction there must be an adequate precipitating factor standing in a close time relationship with the reactive state. There must also be a meaningful connection between the content of the experience and those of the abnormal reaction, and the reaction must be reversible, i.e., the abnormality must disappear when the primary cause for the reaction is removed. In this respect pathological reactions contrast with morbid processes which appear spontaneously. Furthermore, Jaspers suggests that reactive states can be classified in at least three different ways, i.e., according to what precipitates the reaction, according to the particular psychic structure displayed in the reactive state and according to the type of psychic constitution that determines the type of reactivity

       In his classic text August Wimmer (1916) defined psychogenic psychoses as “clinically independent psychoses” caused by “mental trauma” acting on a “predisposed foundation.” Furthermore, he suggested that its two essential components, i.e., predisposition and mental trauma, determine the “moment for the start of the psychosis, the fluctuations of the disease, and very often also its cessation.” He contended that “the form and the content of these psychoses were more or less directly and completely (comprehensibly) determined by the precipitating mental factors.” Psychogenic psychoses almost always end in full recovery. If this is not the case, the diagnosis may need to be reconsidered.

       Important contributions to the understanding of “psychogenic psychosis” were made by Eric Strömgren (1968, 1974). For Strömgren, these psychoses are psychogenic in the sense that “the mental trauma must be of such a nature that the psychosis would not have arisen in its absence.” There must be a close temporal relationship between the onset of the psychosis and the traumatic experience. There is a relationship also between the traumatic situation and the course of the psychosis. This is to the extent that “if the situation ceases to exist the psychosis will usually stop immediately.” But even if the situation persists, according to Strömgren “the psychosis will not go on forever.” 

       Insofar as the “etiology” of psychogenic psychosis is concerned, Strömgren divided exogenous traumatic factors into five groups: experiences of an entirely impersonal character, social disasters, conflicts within the family, isolation and inner conflicts. He maintained, however, that “on the whole one cannot expect to find a clear correlation between the quality and the quantity of the trauma and the type or extent of the patient's reaction.” This implies that much depends on the special sensitivity, i.e., “catathymic predisposition” of the patient, which in turn suggests that endogenous factors possibly play a predisposing role. In favor of this contention are the relatively uniform genetic findings that patients with psychogenic psychosis have a high incidence of “mentally abnormal subjects” in their families.

       Taking all these factors into consideration Pethö, Ban, Kelemen et al. (1984) suggest that in “psychogenic psychosis” the onset of psychopathology must be attributable beyond reasonable doubt to a precipitating life event and the “psychotic content” must be fully understandable with respect to the precipi­tating life event and/or on the basis of patient's life history. The psychosis must appear as an integral part of patient's life history and      the intensity of the traumatic experience should sufficiently explain the emergence of the psychosis. There should be thematic continuity between the traumatic experience and the psychotic content; and there should be a meaning to the psychosis appropriate to the situation with manifestations such as theatricality and protest directed towards the onlookers. To prevent overlap between “reactive” and “endogenous” psychosis  the absence of certain endogenous psychopathological symptoms, such as inhibited thinking, tangential thinking, flight of ideas, perseveration, neologisms, blunted affect and/or autistic behavior is a prerequisite for the diagnosis of psychogenic psychosis.

       Today, psychogenic psychosis is recognized in many countries including Denmark, Norway (reactive psychosis:       psychogenic and constitutional), France (psychoses reactionelles) and the USSR (reactive psychosis) (Giljarowski 1960; Widlocher 1958).

       The diagnosis of endogenous and reactive psychogenic psychoses requires a two-dimensional model of diagnostic classification as cross-sectional psychopathological symptom profiles need to be supplemented with information on the form of onset and antecedent-etiologic event. Accepting endogenous and reactive psychoses as endpoints divides the functional psychotic population into two major groups and only in one of these two, in “endogenous psychosis,” is treatment with antipsychotic drugs the primary choice. In reactive psychosis, treatment with antipsychotics usually does not suffice and needs to be combined with other therapies.


Further Elaboration

       Psychogenic (reactive) psychosis is a two-dimensional diagnosis. Accordingly, an essential prerequisite for this diagnosis is that the emergence of the cross-sectional psychopathological picture of the psychosis can be satisfactorily explained by the “intensity of traumatic experience.” Because the subject matter of the psychosis is organized around the traumatic experience, the content of the psychosis should be comprehensible. The third essential charac­teristic of psychogenic (reactive) psychosis is goal-directedness. It is through this goal-directedness that the psychosis becomes an integral part of patient's life history.

       There is no consensus about the incidence of psychogenic psy­chosis. Strömgren (1968) estimates a morbidity risk (lifetime expectancy) of about l%. He found that 10% of all, and 15-20% of all newly admitted psychotic patients to the Aarhus Psychiatric Hospital in Risskov (Denmark), during the period from 1953 to 1968, belonged to the psychogenic group. On the other hand, Faergeman (1963) found that only about 2% of the patients admitted to the Psychiatric University Clinic at Copenhagen during the period from 1924 to 1926 were diagnosed as psychogenic psychosis.

       On the basis of the clinical picture, Schneider (1927) separates psycho­genic psychosis into three diagnostic groups: “emotional reactions” (approximately 65%), “disorders of consciousness” usually referred to as “dissociative-confusional states” (approximately 15%) and “paranoid states” (approximately 20%). Among the “emotional reactions,” depression is the most frequent. In typical cases it is characterized by a passive attitude and lack of interest in the surroundings. However, atypical cases may occur. Included among the atypical cases are paradoxical reactions such as “funeral manias” (Hollender and Goldin, 1978) and “emotional paralyses,” described by Baelz (1901).

       Distinctly different from the emotional reactions are “dissociative­ confusional” states with prevailing “disorders of consciousness” which in typical cases are manifested in the form of delirious reactions or clouded states. Included among the clouded states is the Ganser syndrome (Ganser 1965) in which the flight from reality is goal directed.

       The third group of psychogenic psychosis consists of “paranoid states.” Among them the most frequently encountered is a "”comprehensible paranoid reaction,” the “sensitive delusions of reference” described by Kretschmer (1927, 1966, 1984).

       While retaining the three forms of psychogenic psychosis, Pethö, Ban, Kelemen et al. (1984) divided psychogenic psychosis into two major groups. One with an acute onset consists of three subtypes: psychogenic regressive psychosis, psychogenic affective psychosis and psychogenic paranoid psy­chosis.  The  other  with  a  subacute  onset,  psychogenic  delusional   development, consists  of  four  variants: passionate (idealists, conjugal paranoia, erotomania), litigious (querulous,  reformatory zealotry),  hypochondriacal (delusions of parasitosis, Shikano syndrome) and symbiotic (folie a deux, folie a trois). The psychogenic psychoses (regressive, affective and paranoid) yield to full remission with resolution of psychopathological symptoms usually within three months, but psychogenic delusional development has a tendency for chronicity and may result in transformation without disintegration of the personality. Prevailing characteristics of psychogenic regressive psychosis are clouding of consciousness and impaired orientation; of psychogenic affective psychosis, exaltation or depression; and of psychogenic paranoid psychosis, delusions of reference.          In contrast to the acute forms, psycho­genic delusional development is characterized by a logically derived systematized delusional system, which spreads within a restricted area. It is assumed that it develops to a “key experience” in patients with paranoid personality traits.

       It is a commonly held view that the form of psychogenic psychosis depends on constitutional factors.  “Syntonic” or “extrovert” patients respond with an “emotional reaction,” “hysterical” display, a “dissociative-confusional state,” and “schizoids” react with a “paranoid  syndrome.” However, Strömgren (1958, 1968, 1974) maintains that more important than constitution is the nature of the traumatic experience. He suggests that  emotional  reactions  are   the result of simple situational conflicts; dissociative-confusional states are the outcome of a sudden  disruption  of  the patient's  image  of  his  environment; and paranoid disorders are the consequence of a severe blow to one's “self-esteem” or to “one's self-image.”

       The question whether the three syndromes described are distinct diag­nostic entities - whether they are meaningful in terms of prognosis and/or treatment - cannot be answered within a two-dimensional model of psychiatric classification. By employing a three-dimensional model, however, it was noted that the duration of   illness   was   significantly   different   for   the three acute psychogenic syndromes. Dissociative-confusional states   last only from a few hours to a few days; emotional reactions (e.g., depression) from a few days to a few weeks and paranoid reactions from a few weeks to a few months.

       Corresponding with the diagnostic category of “psychogenic psychoses” is the diagnostic category of “other nonorganic psychoses” in the ICD-9. This category is   restricted to a  group of psychotic  disorders  largely or entirely   attributable   to  a  recent life experience. Included in this category are nonorganic psychoses depressive type (reactive depressive psychosis, psychogenic depressive psychosis); excitatory, reactive confusion (psychogenic confusion, psychogenic twilight state); psychogenic paranoid psychosis (protracted reactive paranoid psychosis); and other and unspecified reactive psychosis (hysterical psychosis, psychogenic psychosis, psychogenic stupor). Diagnoses corresponding to “psychogenic delusional development” are not limited to “psychogenic paranoid psychosis” in the ICD-9 but include “induced psychosis” (folie a deux, induced paranoid disorder) and other paranoid states (paranoia querulans and sensitiver beziehungswahn).

       Closest to the category of “psychogenic psychoses” is the diagnosis of “brief reactive psychosis” in the DSM-III.        However, the diagnosis of “brief reactive psychosis” does not correspond with any diagnosis within the “psychogenic psychoses.” The only correspondence between the two diagnostic systems relevant to psychogenic psychoses is the one between “psychogenic paranoid psychosis” and “acute paranoid disorder” of the DSM-III. Patients with “psychogenic delusional development” may be diagnosed as “shared para­noid disorder” or “paranoia” in the DSM-III.

       In the treatment of psychogenic psychoses, antipsychotic drugs are exten­sively employed. Despite this, the fact remains that there is no convincing evidence, on the basis of properly designed and conducted clinical experiments, that they are therapeutically effective and/or superior to the benzodiazepines. Especially disappointing is the limited therapeutic responsiveness to antipsychotics in paranoid reactions. Apart from decreasing delusional dynamics, i.e., the force or intensity of the affective drive which accompanies the delusion, they have little effect on the content­ disorder of thinking (systematized delusions).

       While psychogenic paranoid reactions seem to persist despite the administration of antipsychotics, psychogenic dissociative-confusional states promptly remit in the course of administration of the same drugs. In view of the usually short duration (natural course) and reported therapeutic responsiveness of these conditions to barbiturate-induced abreac­tions (Sargant and Slater 1963), it is difficult, in the absence of placebo-controlled experiments, to decide whether one is dealing with spontaneous remission or drug effects.

       The situation is even more confounded in psychogenic emotional reac­tions. As treatment with antidepressants does not seem to have satis­factory therapeutic effects (Bielski and Friedel 1976) and antipsychotics may aggravate depression, as an ultimate resort not infrequently patients with psychogenic depressive (emotional) reactions are treated with electro­convulsive therapy.



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May 13, 2021