- origin of term (1808). Johann Christian Reil (1759–1813), a professor of medicine in Halle, Germany, coined the term "psychiatry" to mean the third arm of the art of medicine, next to physic (medication) and surgery. In a journal of brief duration that he and Johann Christoph Hoffbauer (1766–1827) had founded, called Contributions to Encouraging a Method of Treatment Using Mental Approaches (Beyträge zur Beförderung einer Curmethode auf psychischem Wege), in 1808 Reil wrote "On the Concept of Medicine and its Branches, Especially in Relation to the Justification of the Topic of Psychiatry" ("Über den Begriff der Medicin und ihre Verzweigungen, besonders in Beziehung auf die Berechtigung der Topik der Psychiaterie [sic]"). In a contribution published posthumously in 1816 by his students, 3 years after his death (Entwurf einer allgemeinen Therapie), Reil began spelling it in German "Psychiatrie" rather than "Psychiaterie." These facts were ascertained by Achim Mechler, in a 1963 article in Der Nervenarzt. The use of the new term spread rather slowly, yet already in 1818 we find it in Johann Christian August Heinroth’s (1773–1843) Textbook of Disturbances of Mental Life (Lehrbuch der Störungen des Seelenlebens), as he complained, "There is as yet no proper system of psychiatry, certainly none based on the principles stated in this book" (p. 37 of George Mora’s translation into English). (See German "Romantic" Psychiatry: Heinroth.)
Edward Shorter. 2014.