Hanfried Helmchen: The role of psychopharmacotherapy in the early development of social psychiatry in Germany
Hanfried Helmchen’s reply (comment) on Shridhar Sharma’s comment (text)


          I would like to thank Shridhar Sharma for his comment (or better, independent text) on my short paper about the mutual effects between social psychiatry and pharmacopsychiatry in the beginning of the latter. However, Sharma’s informative and broad text on the development of social psychiatry and the oscillating meaning of the term, as well as of some erroneous ways of its interpretation, is not at all a comment on my paper. Therefore, I will not enter into a discussion on social psychiatry, but only define some data more precisely:

·         The term psychiatry was first used by Johann Christian Reil as Psychiaterie in his  publication Über den Begriff der Medizin und ihre Verzweigungen, besonders in Beziehung auf die Berichtigung der Topik der Psychiaterie, Halle 1808, but not in his best-known book Rhapsodieen über die Anwendung der psychischen Curmethode bei Geisteszerrüttungen. Curtsche Buchhandlung, Halle 1803.

·         Georg Ilberg introduced the term Soziale Psychiatrie in the first volume of a then new journal on social medicine that began in 1904.

·         Georg Kolb published, as early as immediately after World War I, his detailed concept on extramural psychiatry as one type of social psychiatry, the so-called offene Fürsorge (open care).

·         Emil Kraepelin learned methods of experimental psycho(patho)logy in the famous lab of Wilhelm Wundt in Leipzig and performed his own studies in this field mainly in Tartu (Dorpat), Estonia, where he led the psychiatric department of the university, 1886-1891.

·         Erich Guttmann, the mentioned co-worker of Wilhelm Mayer-Gross, changed his prename after his emigration from Germany to the UK in 1936 to Eric. But the “C” and the deletion of the second “n” in spelling of Cuttman apparently are typing errors.

With regard to Sharma’s remarks on ideology and ethics in his last paragraph, I would like to add reference to a short paper that considers the influence of the normative societal framework on the individual (Helmchen 2016).



Häfner H, v. Baeyer W, Kisker K-P. Dringliche Reformen in der psychiatrischen Krankenversorgung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Helfen und Heilen 1965; 4: 1-8.

Helmchen H. Human dignity and physicians conscience. Eur Arch Psychiat Neurosci, 2016; 266:377-8.

Ilberg G. Soziale Psychiatrie. Monatsschrift für soziale Medizin, 1904; 1, 321-9, 393-8.

Kolb G. Reform der Irrenfürsorge. Z Ges Neurol Psychiat, 1919; 47, 137-72.

Kraepelin E. Über die Beeinflussung einfacher psychischer Vorgänge durch Arzneimittel. Experimentelle Untersuchungen. Jena: Gustav Fischer; 1892.


March 14, 2019