Diagnoses of Personality Disorders Between 1879 and 1929 in the Largest Croatian Psychiatric Hospital

Paštar, Zvonimir; Petrov, Božo; Križaj, Aida; Bagarić, Ante; Jukić, Vlado
October 2010
Croatian Medical Journal;Oct2010, Vol. 51 Issue 5, p461
Academic Journal
Aim To study demographic characteristics, comorbidities, and diagnoses of patients admitted for personality disorders to Psychiatric Hospital Vrapče between 1879 and 1929. Methods Data were collected from the archives of Vrapce Psychiatric Hospital for a 50-year period from November 1879 to December 1929. The ratio between the number of patients with personality disorder and the number of all admitted patients was determined. We used 3 systems of definitions of personality disorder: for cases before 1923, we used Prichard's concept of moral insanity and unpublished definitions of one of the hospital managers at that time; for cases after 1923, we used Schneider's classification of psychopathic personalities and unpublished definitions of one of the hospital managers at that time. Results The total number of admissions during the study period was 18 960, 141 (0.74%) of which were for a personality disorder. Of the admitted patients, 85.8% were men and 59.7% were single. The average age was 29.7 ± 9.5 years. Most of them (61.7%) were sent to the hospital by courts or police, and the median length of stay was 92 days (interquartile range, 92.0 - 127.5 days). The first patient with a personality disorder was admitted in 1889 with a diagnosis of moral insanity. Until 1920, only 3 terms were used for personality disorder: moral insanity, psychopathic inferiority, and psychopathy. The term was subdivided only after that year. Of the 141 patients admitted for personality disorder, 34 (24.1%) were discharged with comorbid disorders, mainly substance abuse. The most common single comorbid diagnosis was Ganser syndrome (prison psychosis). Conclusion Archives of the Vrapče Psychiatric Hospital contain reliable data about the earliest nomenclature of personality disorders, the increase in the prevalence of personality disorders, and further subdivision of the term personality disorder. Nomenclature for these disorders used at the Vrapče Psychiatric Hospital was consistent with that used in clinical practice in other parts of the world at the time.


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