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Images in Psychiatry   |    
Julius Ludwig August Koch (1841–1908)
Philipp Gutmann, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2007;164:35-35. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.164.1.35

Julius Ludwig August Koch was born in the small town of Laichingen (Württemberg) in Germany. After working as a chemist for about 7 years, he studied medicine in Tübingen from 1863 to 1867. He first worked as a physician and then later in a private mental hospital in Göppingen. In 1874, he became director of a state mental hospital in Zwiefalten (Württemberg). After a long period of hard and engaged work for his hospital, Koch retired from his directory in 1898.

Being deeply rooted in a Christian faith, Koch’s first works were philosophical: “Epistomological Investigations” (Erkenntnistheoretische Untersuchungen, 1882), “Outline of Philosophy” (Grundriss der Philosophie, 1885), and “Reality and Its Knowledge” (Die Wirklichkeit und ihre Erkenntnis, 1886). Beginning in 1887, he turned his focus toward clinical psychiatric questions. In 1888, he published a “Short Textbook of Psychiatry” (Kurzgefaβter Leitfaden der Psychiatrie) in which he introduced the concept of “psychopathic inferiority” (Psychopathische Minderwertigkeiten). His work on this issue (Die Psychopathischen Minderwertigkeiten, 18911893) became one of the fundamental texts concerning the concept of personality disorders and is still in use today. In this book, published in three parts, he tried to describe the whole field between psychic normality and psychoses. Although psychiatric disorders are classified differently today, Koch’s work keeps its great importance for the concept of personality disorders. Furthermore, one can find very exact and detailed descriptions of a multitude of psychopathological symptoms still worth reading today.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Gutmann, Klinik und Poliklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, 06097 Halle/Saale, Germany; philipp.gutmann@medizin.uni-halle.de (e-mail). Image courtesy of Muensterklinik, Photographical Archives.

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