Reflections on US Psychiatry: How the Baton Was Passed from European Psychiatry and the Contributions of US Psychiatry

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The medical model in psychiatry and descriptive psychopathology were established in Germany by Krapelin's textbook and Jaspers' General Psychopathology. In the United Kingdom, Mayer-Gross' textbook synthesized both books, influencing US psychiatry. US psychiatrists from the World War II generation defeated the US academic psychoanalytic establishment by building three pillars: biological psychiatry (brought by Wortis), the psychopharmacology revolution, and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd Edition (DSM-III). The psychopharmacology revolution included immigrants (e.g., Gershon), Cole's marketing, and textbooks by Klein and Fink. The "neo-Kraepelinians"introduced the medical model in US psychiatry and defined 15 valid psychiatric disorders. Spitzer supervised DSM-III's development. Its 1980 publication started the world dominance of US psychiatry and the multiplication of diagnoses. Major contributions by US psychiatrists include a) McHugh's update of the Jaspersian approach, b) Fink's inclusion of catatonia as a syndrome in DSM-5 (following Abrams and Taylor's studies), and c) DSM-III's departure from the Jaspersian hierarchy of schizophrenia and affective symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-408
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • United States
  • history, 20th century
  • history, 21st century
  • mental disorders, diagnosis
  • psychiatry
  • psychopharmacology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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