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In 1910, Karl Jaspers wrote a seminal essay on morbid jealousy in which he laid the foundation for the psychopathological phenomenology that through his work and the work of Hans Gruhle and Kurt Schneider, among others, would become the hallmark of the Heidelberg school of psychiatry. In General Psychopathology, his most important contribution to the Heidelberg school, Jaspers critiques the scientific aspirations of psychotherapy, arguing that in the realm of the human, the explanation of behavior through the observation of regularity and patterns in it (ErklArende Psychologie) must be supplemented by an understanding of the "meaning-relations" experienced by human beings (Verstehende Psychologie).
As long as psychiatric diagnosis and treatment rest on psychopathological investigation, the continuing improvement and sharpening of this tool of investigation must remain a prime concern to psychiatrists. This book is a guide to that technique; still irreplaceable, much of it is still as fresh as the day it was written and still a lively stimulus to others yet to come. -- E. W. Anderson, foreword to the 1963 English translation of General Psychopathology
Karl Jaspers (1883-1969), a founder of existentialism, studied law and medicine at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and received his M.D. in 1909. He taught psychiatry and philosophy at the University of Heidelberg, and philosophy at the University of Basel in Switzerland. His books include Psychology of World Views, and Philosophy.
Karl Jaspers was only thirty when he amassed the data and expounded the methods and interpretations that give his Psychopathologie a place at the side of James' monumental Principles of Psychology. Like James, he later turned to philosophy. He certainly shared James' radically empirical spirit; he documented more systematically the challenge to the methodological imperialism to which psychopathology was subject in his day. -- Peter A. Bertocci * Review of Metaphysics *