Paul Kielholz by Raymond Battegay

Paul Kielholz, the son of the medical director of the psychiatric hospital of Königsfelden, Switzerland, was born on November 15, 1916. The family lived in a house near the buildings of the patients. The young Paul was recognized as very intelligent and ambitious.  On the one side he identified with his father, a psychiatrist, but at the same time, he was interested also in other branches of medicine. So, after he acquired some experience, in several branches of medicine, he definitely chose psychiatry as his domain.

Paul Kielholz was always a person who, whenever he made a decision in his life, he stuck firmly to that decision. He was much interested on one side in deeply understanding psychiatric patients and on the other, to search for the origins of psychic diseases and to find the psychopharmacologic approach with which the patient may be treated and cured.

Because of the wide recognition of his merits he provided leadership to psychiatrists with whom he worked and other co-workes so as to advance research diagnosis and treatment of the psychoses, depressive disorders and addictions. In 1959, he was elected as professor of psychiatry of the University of Basel and director of the Basel Psychiatric University Hospital.  Paul Kielholz was an excellent director of the Psychiatric Clinic; he knew very well how to lead his staff. In 1967, he became Dean of the Basel University Medical Faculty.

Several important medical societies named Paul Kielholz as an honorary member. He was  recognized internationally for scientific merit and as member or leader of organisations with the mission to develop psychiatric nosology. He was recognized for his wide experience in psychiatry and psychopharmacology throughout the world and was invited in 1968 to join  the WHO Expert Advisory Panel.

Since 1960, he has been an active member of the Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum (CINP) and was chosen as one of the councilors of its 10th Executive. From 1982 to 1984 he was President of CINP. Paul was an excellent leader, with clear opinions that he expressed skillfully and was highly esteemed because of his humanism.

Paul Kielholz, together with J.E. Staehelin, were among the first psychiatrists who recognized that Largactil (chlorpromazine) was an essential drug for the therapy of schizophrenia. Patients in the Basel University Psychiatric Hospital under this treatment became healthy over time and regained their capacity of reality testing. Paul Kielholz with Raymond Battegay also played a significant role in implementing treatment of patients with depression with imipramine (Tofranil). Paul Kielholz was also interested in patients with masked depression and burnout. Not only was he occupied with the treatment of patients, but also with giving lectures at Congresses, and also teaching psychiatrists and general physicians to recognize all sorts of depressive states, specifically those with the risk of suicidality. He was very active in Switzerland, but also in International bodies, e.g. the Council of Europe, which is focused on investigating the development of drug use disorders. He published many papers and was often invited to present lectures in universities, congresses of psychiatry in Switzerland, and other countries such as Germany, Austria, England, France, United States, among others.

Some very important publications of Paul Kielholz and coworkers:

Staehelin JE, Kielholz P. Largactil, ein neues vegetatives Dämpfungsmittel bei psychischen Störungen. Schweiz Med Wschr 1953; 83: 581-6.

Kielholz P, Battegay R. Behandlung depressiver Zustandsbilder unter spezieller Berücksichtigung von Tofranil, einem neuen Antidepressivum  Schweiz Med Wschr 1958; 88: 763-7

Kielholz P. Psychiatrische Pharmakotherapie in Klinik und Praxis. Berne: Huber; 1965..

Kielholz P. Angst-psychische und somatische Aspekte. Berne: Huber; 1966.

Kielholz P, editor. .Depressive Illness, Diagnosis, assessment, treatment. Bern: Huber; 1972.

Kielholz P, editor. Masked Depression. Bern: Huber; 1973.


Raymond Battegay

October 2, 2014