Hermann Emminghaus

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Hermann Emminghaus

Hermann Emminghaus (born May 20, 1845 in Weimar ; † February 17, 1904 in Freiburg im Breisgau ) was a German psychiatrist and university professor . He was a supporter of scientific medicine and is considered a pioneer of understanding psychiatry and psychopathology as well as child and adolescent psychiatry . The term " psychopathology " comes from him .

Live and act

After completing his medical studies in Göttingen, Jena, Vienna and Leipzig, Hermann Emminghaus initially worked at the Physiological Institute at the University of Leipzig before his career took him to Würzburg , where he completed his habilitation in 1873 and was a lecturer at the university there from 1874. He then worked for some time as a clinical psychiatrist at what was then the insane asylum in Heppenheim ad Bergstrasse, followed by a short stopover at the University of Jena ; there he was appointed professor of psychiatry at the University of Dorpat (today: Tartu / Estonia), where he worked from 1880 to 1886.

Scientifically, Emminghaus had dealt with the questions of various organic brain diseases and degeneration processes; he had also dealt with general psychopathology, forensics and especially with the mental disorders in children and adolescents. His work in this regard is still recognized today in child and adolescent psychiatry.

When the chair for psychiatry was established at the Albert Ludwig University in Freiburg im Breisgau in 1886, Emminghaus was appointed full professor .

In Freiburg, he had to limit himself to his teaching activities, as the new insane clinic (it was to be given this name and run until 1912) was still under construction and could only start operating on May 18, 1887, after which Emminghaus could also become a clinical one Turn to activity.

Emminghaus was the first professor to introduce Wilhelm Griesinger's views based on scientific medicine in Freiburg and was a consistent representative of the “ no restraint ” (treatment without compulsion), a movement from England whose aim was to use coercion in everyday clinical practice in the psychiatric institution to avoid if possible. If one takes into account the constant complaints and submissions of the residents of the clinic to the courts about the 'screaming and raging of the sick (one of these complaints about the closure and relocation of the psychiatry was brought to the Reichsgericht in Leipzig), it can be deduced from this that the brave efforts of Emminghaus could hardly have been crowned with actual success.

Hermann Emminghaus's directorate was overshadowed by all sorts of problems; On the one hand, the professor had to grapple with the never-ending complaints and complaints of the clinic residents, then on the other hand structural improvements had to be implemented, such as the connection of the hospital to the municipal water supply and sewerage, the installation of electrical light (at least in the central wing) and the same. Since there were no qualified nurses for psychiatric clinics at that time, one had to be content with hiring unskilled workers (guards who were subordinate to the so-called Oberwart staff); this work, in turn, was extremely poorly remunerated, which, in connection with long periods of service, the so-called "cost compulsory", the obligation to participate in the institute's meal table, and further harassment led to high staff turnover, since anyone who had something better offered the Immediately seized the opportunity to terminate.

From the turn of the century there was a steady increase in overcrowding in the clinic, which - as the 1901 annual report describes - led to increased use of sedatives, and Emminghaus had to set up additional " Tobacco cells ".

The character of Emminghaus, described as reserved, upright, conscientious and kind and often tormented by scruples in view of the plight of his patients, was not suitable for dealing with questions of administration, when differences with the waiting staff or the quarrels with the hospital residents arise about their own concerns and to override those of other people, and it is reasonable to assume that the constant obsession of this kind became a heavy burden on him, which undermined his health.

In 1902 Emminghaus resigned from his post as full professor and director of the Freiburg insane clinic due to illness. A progressive brain disease began to rob him of his intellectual abilities, from which he must have suffered greatly in moments of clarity.

Emminghaus died in 1904 at the age of 58.

His successor Alfred Hoche wrote him a warmly felt, honorable obituary in the second volume of the work “Deutsche Irrenärzte” in 1921, which vividly demonstrates the human and professional gifts and qualities of Hermann Emminghaus even to today's contemporaries.

The department for child and adolescent psychiatry at the Freiburg University Medical Center named a ward after his name and has honored him in this way to this day.


  • On Hysterical Insanity: A Contribution to the Pathogenesis of Mental Illness . Dissertation, University of Jena 1870.
  • On the Value of Clinical Education in Psychiatry . Schnakenburg publishing house, Dorpat 1881.
  • The mental disorders of childhood . In: C. Gebhardt (Ed.): Handbook of teething troubles . Vol. VIII (Addendum II, pp. 1–293), Verlag Laupp, Tübingen 1887. ( digitized version )
  • General Psychopathology as an introduction to the study of mental disorders . FCW Vogel, Leipzig 1878 ( digitized version )


  • Rudolf Degkwitz (Ed.): Chronicle of the Psychiatric University Clinic Freiburg i. Br. 1886-1986 . Forum Medicine, Jansen / Neuss 1987.
  • AE Hoche: Hermann Emminghaus . In: German insane doctors . Vol. II. Verlag Julius Springer, Berlin 1924, p. 231 ff.
  • Werner Leibbrand:  Emminghaus, Hermann. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 4, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1959, ISBN 3-428-00185-0 , p. 485 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • HKW Pieper: Short Freiburg Psychiatry History . Annex (2008) to the internal manual for nursing students by E. Kohlscheen et al., Freiburg 1996 (not published).
  • Cay-Rüdiger Prüll: Emminghaus, Hermann. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 348.

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