Theodor Meynert is not only a great medical scientist; Born on June 15, 1833 in Dresden, in the family of the theater critic and singer of the court opera, Theodore wrote poetry, wrote ballads, knew the history, theatrical criticism, and owned a half-dozen languages, which he spoke fluently. He, like Mesmer, founded in his house a salon for writers, musicians, painters, actors and was their patron.
After graduating from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Vienna in 1861, Meynert worked as a pathologist at the Pathological Institute with distinguished anatomist Professor Karl von Rokitanski, and at the same time he was a doctor and inspector of the Viennese psychiatric hospital. In 1865 he defended his doctoral thesis on "The structure and function of the brain and spinal cord."
The rules unambiguously prohibited one person from holding the post of the mayor of the department and the adviser of the university clinic at the same time, so recieving funds from both the imperial government and the district authorities was illegal. Professor Theodor Meinert was allowed to violate these rules so that he could conduct brain research at the university clinic and take care of mental patients in the hospital ward.
Since 1870 Theodore Meinert became a visiting professor of psychiatry, and from 1873 to for the rest of his life ha worked at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Vienna. Teaching psychiatry at the Vienna University, Meinert was in charge of the Second Viennese Psychiatric Clinic at the Vienna City Hospital, which his teacher Karl von Rokitanski (President of the Austrian Academy of Sciences since 1869) organized in 1875 specifically for him. Employees and students of Meinert in the clinic were such famous psychiatrists as K. Wernicke, O. Trout, Anton (G. Anton) and A. Peak.
For his work in the field of anatomy and brain physiology, Theodor Meinert received the title of "father of brain architecture." He did not claim to have developed a technique for anatomical brain research. He gave this honor to a whole pleiad of predecessors: Arnold, Stilling, Kelliker, Fauville, and in particular Professor Karl von Rokitansky, a pioneer of pathological anatomy. He claimed only the title of "the main developer of anatomical localization of brain functions." Starting from scratch, he examined a hundred living beings to determine which part of the brain controls that or other parts of the body. He drew attention to the cerebral cortex as "the part where the functions creating the personality are located." He described associative neurons and advanced the notion of the "primary self" as a "bodily consciousness", different from consciousness, which was studied by psychologists and, as is known, was identified with a person's idea of his disembodied inner world. Subsequently, historians correlated the Freudian concept of the unconscious (id) with Meinert's "primary self."
Professor Pathology Meinert, a stocky, strong man with a powerful chest and a huge head with magnificent hair, - nature played on the skull, unable to cope with the lower part of the body - was an
eccentric individualist, possessed a fighting nature and an outstanding intellect. Meinert had a difficult life. He began his medical career in a madhouse in Lower Austria, two blocks away, on Spitalgasse, on a picturesque hill, overgrown with trees and beds decorated with flower. While working there, he studied the samples of the brain and spinal cord, examining patients with pathology of the psyche under a microscope as a good material for accurate scientific studies of the cerebral cortex, nerve cells, and the posterior central part of the brain as the sensory, anterior central part of the brain as a motor.
It was then that he came into conflict with the German movement in defense of psychiatric patients, with doctors who believed that their task was to study mentally ill people, classify symptoms, restore the histories of their families, for all mental illnesses are hereditary, and alleviate their suffering. The elder over Meintert in the house for the mentally ill Dr. Ludwig Schlager devoted ten years to facilitate the fate of lunatics, to provide them with protection in the conditions of psychiatric hospitals and in prison cells, to give them normal food and care.
Dr. Meinert also believed that only work in the laboratory had a value. He was neither a rude nor a callous person, but claimed that no lunatic was cured that only through the anatomy of the brain there can be ways to improve the condition of the patients. When he knows everything about how the brain works, which causes the breakdown of his functions, he can save people from mental illnesses by eliminating the causes.
The confrontation took on such an acute form that Meinert was fired. He continued to work alone in his personal laboratory, doing autopsies, forgotten by the university's clinical school; He was avoided, as if he had caught a contagious, deadly disease. Only two people supported him: a wife who considered him a genius, and his mentor Rokitansky, the author of the three-volume "Pathological Anatomy" (1842).
The cabinet of Adviser Meinert resembled a chapel with a number of small windows located in niches under the ceiling, overlooking the thickets of chestnuts. On the shelves, on the Florentine table, encrusted with lilies of the Medici coat of arms, wherever possible,there were books and manuscripts. The owner of the office was seated in a deckchair, covered with a red Viennese damask, with a cross board for writing, resting on the arms of the chair. On this board he worked on his countless manuscripts. He was fat, and when he concentrated his favorite Havana cigars, dark gray hair fell on his sloping forehead.
In addition to the textbooks on psychiatry Krepelin and Kraft-Ebing, in medical scientific monographs there was little material about the neurosis. It was said about this disease in the "Archives" of Charcot, in the work of the American neurologist S.V. Mitchell, the founder of the famous "treatment of neurasthenia rest," and in the book of the Englishman J. Brad "Neurohypnology" (1843). In the German-speaking world, doctors still defined neurosis as an initial madness, which caused doctors despair. Professor Meinert believed that neuroses are either hereditary, or are caused by physical brain damage.
Professor Theodor Meinert, the first developer of brain research techniques and author of "The Mechanics of Psychic Activity", tirelessly repeated that "all emotional disorders and mental shifts are caused by physical illnesses, and nothing else." He was opposed to the idea of the human soul, arguing that all the work of psychologists trying to find its place in the body was not only useless and barren, but also misleading. It is difficult to object to Meinert, since the understanding of the processes that generate mental activity and consciousness seemed mysterious and was on the initial path. The main argument in favor of the complexity of this unsolved problem is the fact that until now it is not clear how the brain produces mental processes, and the latter - consciousness, whether it does arise in the brain. Is it because of this Einstein said that "psychology is more complicated than physics"? ..
Prof. Meinert held discoveries concerning the CNS pathways, cytoarchitectonics of the cerebral cortex. He described the specific structure of one of the areas of the cortex of the occipital part of the brain, as well as cells that received the name of Meinert cells. He made a significant contribution to the study of the pathological anatomy of progressive paralysis. On the basis of his morphological studies, Meinert came to the conclusion about the main functional and anatomical differences between the cerebral cortex and the subcortex, which he later laid the basis for an explanation of the nature and systematics of mental
disorders. From this point of view, in his work "Psychiatry - a Clinic for the Disease of the Forebrain" (1884), he divided mental illness into two groups: the consequences of "anatomical changes" and "brain power disorders." He stood in the positions of narrow localizationism, and many of his positions, for example "brain mythology," met with justified criticism.
The most significant clinical work was the allocation to him of the clinical picture of amenia. Amenity in Meinert's understanding was a composite group of acute psychoses with incoherence of thinking and speech. In 1881, Meinert introduced the concept of amenia: a syndrome of frustrated consciousness, a state of acute confusion. Initially, Maynert called amenity an acute hallucinatory confusion of consciousness, and only in 1890 introduced the concept of amenia, whose boundaries significantly expanded, treating it as an independent psychosis. The main signs are complete disorientation in place, time, self, incoherence of thinking, increased distractibility, the presence of amorphous, unstable illusions and hallucinations, fragmentary delirious emotions, confusion, fearfulness, inadequate emotionality.
Counselor Meinert was a psychiatrist, a specialist in the anatomy and physiology of the brain, but he rejected the term "psychiatry", which arose in 1835. The very title of his main work immediately gives us an understanding of his principled position ("Psychiatry, a forebrain disease clinic based on its structure, administration and nutrition"). Meinert wanted to understand the psychoses to which Charcot and others referred hysteria, based on the anatomical structure and work of the brain. He searched everywhere for pathological changes (melancholic and manic states, delusions, obsessions, etc.), he tried to translate all the psychological and psychopathological processes into anatomical language. Many critics call Meinert's constructions "brain mythology."
Having rebelled against the term "psychiatry", he sai that this word misleads people, promising something that it can not fulfill. In his opinion, the science of mental disorders only then will be on firm ground, when the organ in which the psychic life is centered will be studied in detail. Such was the basis of the medical outlook of the sixties of the last century. So taught Rokitansky, so spoke the great physician Virchow.
Coryphaeus of psychiatry Maynert, Kraepelin and Kraft-Ebing believed that mental illnesses were hereditary, the patients simply inherited such disorders from their parents or grandparents, as the eye color or gait inherited, so they can not be treated. After all, what is inherited can not be corrected. It is necessary to wait, that the nature, having taken away reason, has repented and has returned it back, they said.
In personal interviews, counselor Meinert repeatedly stated that neuroses most often had a sexual etiology. About this same Charcot said, and Freud was a bystander of this talk. But when Freud wrote the book "On Child Sexuality," Meinert called Freud a man with dirty thoughts, "peeping at the keyhole," then a "sex maniac," a trader in lust and pornography, "a defiler of the spiritual qualities of man, "Immodest, shameless, dissolute, bestial", "a shame for his profession" and ultimately "anti-christ."
Having visited an internship at Charcot, in Salpetriere, Freud brought to Vienna the belief that hysteria is not only a prerogative of a female character, it also happens in men. Freud was so taken by this thought that he reported this to the university at a meeting of the Vienna Medical Society of Physicians. Maynert had a difficult character, and he was jealous of his position, for most of what he knew about the anatomy of the brain, he subtracted in his, Meinert, works. Sigmund Freud was one of his best students and "second doctors", who have high expectations. Maynert was hurt by the fact that the man to whom he treated like a father, praised someone else's. Professor Meinert made a refutation and ridiculed the speaker.
Theodore Meinert fell ill. It was rumored that he was lying on his deathbed. Suddenly, Freud received a note from him, in which he asked to visit his teacher.
"For five or six years now you are besieging me with the stupidities of Charcot regarding male hysteria. Tell me, do you still believe in this absurdity? Speak only the truth, dishonorably lie to the dying.
"With all honesty and despite your great efforts, I have not changed my mind.
- Then I will also be frank. A slight smile came across Meinert's face. - Dear colleague, such a thing as male hysteria exists. Do you know where I know this?
"No," Sigmund answered modestly.
- Because I represent a clear case of male hysteria. It made me smell chloroform when I was young, and made me addicted to alcohol when I aged. Why do you think I fought so desperately against you these years?
-... you were ... committed to anatomical basis ...
- Nonsense! You should not be deceived. I ridiculed your theory so as not to be exposed.
-Why are you telling me this now, Mr. Counselor?
- Because it does not matter anymore. My life is over. I feel I can still teach you something. The enemy who fights against you most violently, most of all is convinced of your rightness. I was not the last of those who tried to drag you into the fight, to debunk your beliefs. You are one of my best students. You deserve the truth.
Of the last strength, Meinert whispered: - Goodbye, you will have an amazing scientific destiny.
Professor Theodore Meinert died on May 31, 1892, when he was 59 years old, becoming a victim of congenital heart disease.