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The Development of Non-affective Psychotic Syndromes in the 19th Century: LeGrand du Saulle and His 1871 Monograph "Le Délire De Persécutions" (Persecutory Delusions).

Schizophrenia Bulletin 2023 November 23
While the origins of two of Kraepelin's three subtypes of dementia praecox (DP), catatonic and hebephrenic, are well understood, no similar clear narrative exists for his concepts of paranoia and paranoid DP, which require a consideration of both German and French sources. An important milestone in the French literature is the massive 524 page monograph entitled "Le Délire Des Persécutions" published in 1871 by Henri Legrand du Saulle which contained extensive, clinically detailed descriptions of a wide range of cases with prominent, organized persecutory delusions. Many of his cases reported auditory hallucinations (AH), and some bizarre, Schneiderian delusions. The delusional content could evolve to include prominent somatic and/or grandiose themes. Using a symptomatic diagnostic framework, Legrand du Saulle proposed that this syndrome represented an independent "species" of mental illness. He sought to give a voice to the affected individuals, including a chapter devoted entirely to their writings. He described several clinically fascinating features of such patients including how often they moved residence to unsuccessfully flee their persecutors and how delusional beliefs could be communicated to spouses and relatives. Unlike Kraepelin, he was little interested in their course of illness or rates of deterioration, except to note that recoveries occurred in 20% of cases. The clinical richness of this work substantially exceeded that in the contemporaneous German literature. Most of the cases described by du Saulle would fit easily into the two major non-affective delusional syndromes articulated 28 years later in Kraepelin's famous 6th edition of his textbook: paranoia and paranoid DP.

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