Christian Müller

(Biography written at time of nomination.)

Christian Müller was born in 1921 in Münsingen near Berne/Switzerland where his father, Prof. Max Müller, was medical director of a great psychiatric hospital. His grand-father, too, was a psychiatrist. Christian Müller achieved his studies of medicine in Berne in 1946 and habilitated in psychiatry and psychotherapy under Manfred Bleuler in Zurich in 1957. From 1960 through 1982, he was ordinary professor of psychiatry and director of the psychiatric university clinic of Cery/Lausanne, Switzerland.

On the base of a classical medical, psychopathological and psychanalytic-psychotherapeutic education, he developed a deep interest in the long-term dynamics of the main mental illnesses, especially schizophrenia. Already since the fifties of the last century, he was an engaged reformer of institutional psychiatry in Switzerland and one of the worlds first pioneers of a psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy of schizophrenia. In 1956, he founded with Gaetano Benedetti from Basel/Switzerland an international working group on this topic which organised periodic international symposia on the psychotherapy of schizophrenia, first in Zurich and Lausanne, and later abroad.  This group This group marked the very beginnings of the later International Society for Schizophrenia Psychotherapy.

Christian Müller’s main research focus was on long-term evolution of mental illnesses until old age. His catamnestic long-term investigations on all main psychiatric illnesses which he inaugurated in the sixties under the name “The Lausanne Enquête” are among the longest in the world. After his retirement in 1982, he mainly worked on historical psychiatric themes. He has published a great number of scientific papers and books, covering different fields of psychiatry. As member of several national and international scientific societies, he was also influential in reforming psychiatric care structures and promoting community-related networks for rehabilitation. Furthermore, he was as a core-member of the editor-board of “Psychiatrie der Gegenwart”, the leading German psychiatric encyclopaedia. As co-founder of an European working group for geriatric psychiatry, he was also one of the earliest European psychiatrists who developed a special interest in old age psychiatry on which he published the first text-book. He earned several internationational scientific awards and was promoted Doctor honoris causa of the University of Heidelberg in 1980. On the international as well as on the national level, where he is looked at as “the grand old man” of Swiss psychiatry, he is highly estimated for both his professional and his human qualities. He currently lives in Berne/Switzerland where he continues to be an active psychotherapist and psychoanalyst.

Honors: Hermann-Simon Award (Germany) 1971, Theodor Nägeli Award (Switzerland) 1976, Member of the Akademie Leopoldina (Germany)

Main books:

Mikropsie und Makropsie (Karger, Basel 1956)
Über das Senium der Schizophrenen (Karger, Basel 1967)
Alterspsychiatrie (Thieme, Stuttgart 1967) / Abrégé de psychogériatrie (Masson, Paris 1981)
Lexikon der Psychiatrie (Springer, Berlin 1973)
(with L. Ciompi as first author): Lebensweg und Alter der Schizophrenen (Springer, Berlin 1976)
Les maladies psychiques et leur évolution (Huber, Berne 1981)
Les institutions psychiatriques (Springer, Berlin 1982)
Etudes sur la psychothérapie des psychoses (Privat, Toulouse 1982)
Die Gedanken werden handgreiflich (Springer, Berlin 1992)
Vom Tollhaus zum Psychozentrum (Pressler, Hürtgenwald 1993) / De l’asile au centre psychosocial (Payot, Lausanne 1997)
Wer hat die Geisteskranken von den Ketten befreit? (Psychiatrieverlag, Bonn 1998)
Paul Dubois (1848-1918) (Schwabe, Basel 2001)
Rorschach, Briefwechsel (Huber, Bern 2004)

Luc Ciompi

It is with great sadness that we mourn the recent passing of our ISPS co-founder Professor Christian Müller. Together with Gaetano Benedetti, Christian Müller co-founded ISPS in Switzerland in 1956. Professor Müller has inspired many clinicians over the past decades and it was a great honour for many of us to meet him at the International ISPS congress in Madrid in 2006, which was also the 50 year anniversary for ISPS.

Müller (1978) emphasized the importance of making attempts to understand, make contact and dialogue with the person suffering from schizophrenia in contrast to the Jasperian legacy which claims the incomprehensibility of psychotic symptoms.

Müller (1984) pointed out that the therapist’s personal motivations in doing the work plays a key role in the unfolding “common adventure” and “common destiny.” One must avoid, Müller noted, treating the patient as an object. Christian Müller’s research interest was on the long-term evolution of mental illnesses until old age.

Professor Christian Müller will be very much missed by many family members, friends, colleagues and patients. We hope we can continue and carry forward his monumental contributions to the field. Professor Müller will be honoured at a special talk, dedicated to his life and work, during the ISPS 2013 congress in Warsaw this August.

The ISPS Executive Committee

April 2013

The first International Symposium for the Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia was held in Cery (Lausanne), Switzerland in 1956, organised by Gaetano Benedetti and Christian Müller

letter of invitation to 1st ISPS syposium in 1956

translation of letter of invitation

list of people invited part 1

list of people invited part 2