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Ewald Hecker (1843-1909) was a German physician who was an important figure in the early days of psychiatry. He is known for research done with his mentor, psychiatrist Karl Ludwig Kahlbaum.

In the early 1870s Kahlbaum and Hecker did a series of studies on young psychotic patients at Kahlbaum's clinic in Gorlitz, Prussia. Together they were the first to describe and classify the mentally ill into groups according to syndrome. It was during this period that Hecker came up with the descriptive terms of hebephrenia and cyclothymia. He described hebephrenia as a disorder that begins in adolescence with erratic behaviour followed by a rapid decline of all mental functions, and cyclothymia as a cyclical mood disorder.

This research was a major influence on Emil Kraepelin’s dichotomy between dementia praecox and manic depressive insanity, and also on our modern concepts of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.


  • On the Origin of the Clinical Standpoint in Psychiatry: By Dr Ewald Hecker in Görlitz
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