Childhood Psychoses

  • Stella Chess
  • Mahin Hassibi


Before the turn of the century, the psychiatric literature on childhood psychoses in the United States was meager and essentially anecdotal in nature. Of the five writers mentioned by Leo Kanner from the years before 1900, two are French (Manheimer, 1899; Moreau de Tours, 1888), one German (Emminghaus, 1887), and two English (Irland, 1898; Maudsley, 1867). With the introduction of Kraepelin’s nosological system, psychiatrists began to show an active interest in classifying various clinical pictures. Soon afterward De Sanctis (1906) in Italy described children with psychotic symptomatology who were not feeble-minded and in whom, according to him, dementia praecox was manifested at an earlier age than Kraepelin had suggested. In 1908 Heller (cited by Kanner, 1949/1973) reported six cases of progressive dementia in children in whom onset of the disease during the third or fourth year of life had caused rapid regression in behavior, loss of speech, and withdrawal of interest from the environment. Heller had assumed that these were cases of early dementia praecox and as such belonged to the category of functional psychosis. However, later developments showed Heller’s disease to be due to acute and diffuse degeneration of the cerebral cortex.


Central Nervous System Damage Stereotyped Movement Childhood Schizophrenia Psychotic Symptomatology Schizophrenic Child 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stella Chess
    • 1
  • Mahin Hassibi
    • 2
  1. 1.New York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.New York Medical CollegeValhallaUSA

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