Vladimir Mikhailovich Bekhterev (1857-1927) and the Psycho-neurological Institute in St. Petersburg

Ingird KÄSTNER
Medizinische Fakultät der Universität Leipzig, Karl-Sudhoff-Institut für Geschichte der Medizin und der Naturwissenschaften, Leipzig, Germany

Bekhterev, after having studied medicine at the Medical-Surgical Academy in St. Petersburg, went straight into the clinic run by the psychiatrist J. P. Merzheevskii, a follower of Charcot. His journey abroad, which started in 1884 and lasted for eighteen months, was very important for him. He visited Berlin, Leipzig, Paris and Vienna, being particularly influenced by his time at Leipzig University. In 1885, Bekhterev started his teaching career as professor of psychiatry in Kazan', and in 1893 he took over the Chair of Mental and Nervous Diseases in the Military Medical Academy in St. Petersburg, and it was here, in 1907, that the Psycho- neurological Institute (since 1925 "Bekhterev Institute") was founded. The original idea of such specialist institutes came from the Leipzig scientists Wilhelm His, sen. and Paul Flechsig, who had put forward plans for specialist institutes for research into the activities of the brain. Their suggestion was then presented to the General Meeting of the International Association of Academies in London in 1904. Bekhterev took part in this meeting as the Russian representative. Back to Russia, he campaigned for a research institute for psycho- neurology, and in 1907, Czar Nicholas II confirmed the foundation of the Psycho- neurological Institute in St. Petersburg. The institute's organization and further development is described up to 1927, the year of Bekhterev's unexpected death.

The aim of this contribution is to draw the attention of the modern research community to the simple but remarkably well structured experimental settings used by this author 200 years ago and to encourage in-depth reevaluation of his concepts from a modern point of view.


Session IV -- Poster Session 1
Friday, 15 June 2001, 9:00 - 10:00 am

Sixth Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN) and
Eighth Meeting of the European Club for the History of Neurology (ECHN)

Cologne, Germany