Franz Nissl

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Franz Nissl (born September 9, 1860 in Frankenthal (Palatinate) ; † August 11, 1919 in Munich ) was a German psychiatrist and neuropathologist .

Nissl became particularly well known for his histopathological brain studies, in which he discovered the so-called Nissl clods and the Nissl staining in 1894 .

Franz Nissl

Live and act

Franz Nissl, son of a Catholic Latin teacher, did not study theology, but medicine in Munich, contrary to his father's wishes. After studying medicine and doing his doctorate in 1885, Nissl began his psychiatric training as an assistant at the Munich District Insane Asylum with Bernhard von Gudden , the personal physician to King Ludwig II of Bavaria , with whom von Gudden died in or on Lake Starnberg in 1886 . Nissl was also the doctor of Prince Otto of Bavaria at Fürstenried Castle . In 1888/89 he worked at the institution for the mentally ill (Karl Friedrichs Hospital) in Blankenhain near Weimar in Thuringia. From 1889 Nissl was senior physician at the municipal insane asylum in Frankfurt am Main , where he met Ludwig Edinger and Carl Weigert and Alois Alzheimer worked under him. In 1895 Nissl moved to Heidelberg to Emil Kraepelin at the Psychiatric University Clinic , where he would then be active for 23 years.

In 1896 he completed his habilitation at Kraepelin, was appointed associate professor in 1901 and in 1904 Kraepelin's indirect successor as director of the now world-famous clinic, after the initially appointed Karl Bonhoeffer had given up the clinic management after a few months. Nissl's work in Heidelberg was characterized above all by happy personnel decisions, of which that stands out for Karl Jaspers . Due to illness, Nissl gave up his chair in 1918 and until his death was a brief department head at the German Research Institute for Psychiatry founded by Emil Kraepelin in Munich . He was buried in the forest cemetery (old part) in Munich. The grave is still there.

Since it was founded, he was a member of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences .


As a full professor at the Medical Faculty of Heidelberg, Nissl u. a. the following personalities:

  • Karl Wilmanns : Habilitation in 1906 with a study on the psychopathology of the vagabond that had already been started under Kraepelin - in 1918 Wilmanns was Nissl's successor.
  • Karl Jaspers : Doctorate on December 8, 1908 with his dissertation on homesickness and crime - in 1913 he completed his habilitation with Nissl's help and that of Max Weber with his well-known general psychopathology for psychology in the Philosophical Faculty, which he developed during his time as a trainee doctor at Nissl , at which he received a chair for philosophy in 1921, succeeding Wilhelm Windelband ;
  • Otto Meyerhof : PhD in December 1909 with the third part: The Psychology of Madness, his basic theoretical contributions to the psychological theory of mental disorders. - Thirteen years later Meyerhof received the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his groundbreaking work on the biochemistry of cell metabolism , without ever giving up his philosophical interests, which he and his fellow student as a friend of the philosopher Leonard Nelson
  • Arthur Kronfeld shared with Nissl almost at the same time on December 7, 1909, with a contribution to the study of Wassermann's reaction and its diagnostic application in psychiatry. I. PhD on the methodology and theory of the reaction and then from 1910 to 1913 initially employed as an assistant doctor and then, like Jaspers, as a volunteer doctor - in 1912 Kronfeld developed the first systematic overall presentation and (by him already called) "epistemological" investigation of the psychological theories of Freud and related beliefs ;
  • Hans Walter Gruhle : Habilitation on March 3, 1913 for psychiatry and medical psychology with a thesis on the falsification of perception - Gruhle, who had worked at Nissl since May 5, 1905, received his doctorate in January 1907 at the University of Munich, starting with Emil Kraepelin in 1904 Work on Ergographic Studies .

Fonts (selection)

  • About the changes in the ganglion cells on the facial nucleus of the rabbit after the nerves are torn out. In: General journal for psychiatry. Volume 48, 1892, p. 197 f.
  • About a new method of investigation of the central organ especially for the determination of the localization of the nerve cells. In: Neurologisches Zentralblatt. Volume 13, 1894, p. 507 f.
  • The neuron theory and its followers. A contribution to solving the problem of the relationships between nerve cell, fiber and gray. Fischer, Jena 1903.
  • On the histopathology of paralytic cortical disease. In: Histological and histopathological works on the cerebral cortex with special consideration of the pathological anatomy of mental diseases. Vol. 1 (1904), pp. 315-494 ( digitized version ).
  • (Ed., Partly with Alois Alzheimer ) Histological and histopathological work on the cerebral cortex. 7 volumes. Fischer, Jena 1904–1921.


Web links

Commons : Franz Nissl  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Barbara I. Tshisuaka: Nissl, Franz. 2005, p. 1054.
  2. Barbara I. Tshisuaka: Nissl, Franz. 2005, p. 1054.
  3. Barbara I. Tshisuaka: Nissl, Franz. 2005, p. 1054.
  4. ^ Members of the HAdW since it was founded in 1909. Franz Nissl. Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, accessed on June 19, 2016 .

2) Communication from the Munich City Archives dated February 14, 1027