The Psychiatric Hospital of Corfu was founded in 1838 by the (British) Ionian State and was joined in Greek territory in 1864. It was the unique psychiatric hospital in Greece, until the establishment of Dromokaition Hospital of Athens, in 1887. In its long history many of the patients’ admissions had a local character, mainly from Corfu, the Ionian Islands, and later from Western Greece. Until the 1950s, we can follow efforts to improve buildings and patient care, but we note also long hospitalizations of men and women and high death rates. It had been an isolated institution until it joined the National Health System in 1983. It closed its doors in 2006, after a long reform process started in 1986. In its place today there is a network of community psychiatric care and rehabilitation units. Based on the medical and social hospital’s books data, this paper focuses on the time of appearance and eventually withdrawal of the main diagnoses. 15844 admissions were recorded from 1838 to 2000. We note the time of first description of a diagnosis in European and Greek literature. In the 19th century, the wide diagnosis of dementia also included cases of chronic schizophrenia of our days. The diagnoses of lipomania (from 1855 to 1888), monomania (from 1845 to 1885), and degeneration insanity (from 1902 to 1952) depended on the scientific audience of these theories. Schizophrenia, as expected, was the leading one diagnosis, from 1915. Dementia praecox (πρωτογόνος άνοια in Greek) and precocious dementia were present from 1862 to 1945. Throughout the history of this institution, a large number of cases of mania and melancholia were also observed. Since 1859, the intermittent or cyclic nature of these two symptoms has been recorded, as well as since 1916, Kraepelin's manic-depressive insanity. From 1950, with the use of antibiotics, general paralysis (syphilis of the CNS) will disappear. The presence of many other diagnoses is discussed. From the end of the 19th century, the concept of widely used psychosis has gradually replaced insanity and phrenitis. From the 1940’s, we also observe the use of “syndrome” in order also to describe clinical pictures of psychosis and affective disorders. This use of syndrome is probably related to the will of the medical directors of a freer use of diagnoses, compared to those included in the known nosography criteria. The homogenization of diagnoses in Greece was essentially accomplished by introducing ICD-10 in 1990s.

KEYWORDS: Psychiatric hospital of Corfu, psychiatric diagnosis, history of psychiatry, nosology, classification, psychopathology.

Dimitris Ploumpidis, Ioannis Triantafylloudis, Pentagiotissa Stefanatou, Zacharias Kalogerakis


Full article in pdf