Emminghaus, Hermann
First name:
Place of birth:
Freiburg im Breisgau (DEU)
* 20.05.1845
† 17.02.1904
Biography print

German psychiatrist,19th-century pioneer of child and adolescent psychiatry.


Hermann Emminghaus (1845–1905) was born on 20 May 1845 in Weimar, Grand Duchy of Saxony, as the son Alexander and Minna Emminghaus. His father was a high-ranking official at the Grand Ducal Court. He had one sister, Luise, with whom he grew up in Weimar. After graduating from school in April 1865, Emminghaus went to study medicine in Göttingen, Vienna, Leipzig and Jena. He obtained his doctorate from the University of Jena on 7 June 1870 with a dissertation on hysterical madness. In 1874, he married Ottilie Hedwig Julie Amalie Boethlingk from Saint Petersburg, Russia. The couple had two daughters, Margarethe (born 1877) and Katharina (born 1882), and two sons, Bernhard (born 1880) and Gerold (born 1889) (cf. Castell 2003: 411; Reichert 1989; Hoche 1935).


Professional career

Emminghaus started his professional career in 1869 at the regional asylum in Jena and as an assistant physician to Carl Gerhardt (1833–1902) at the medical clinic in Jena before being briefly deployed to a surgical field hospital near Weimar in 1870. In 1873, he transferred to the Leipzig Institute of Physiology under Carl Ludwig (1816–1895). Still in the same year, he moved on to Würzburg where he opened a private practice and gained the formal qualification for a professorship. Emminghaus taught internal medicine and psychiatry as an assistant to Franz von Rinecker (1811–1883) at Würzburg University and, in 1879, worked under Georg Ludwig (1826–1910) at the asylum in Heppenheim, Hesse. In 1880, he was appointed to the newly established chair of psychiatry at the University of Dorpat in Russia (today Tartu, Estonia). Six years later, in 1886, he was appointed to the first chair of psychology at Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg after Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840–1902) had refused the post. His successor in Dorpat was Emil Kraepelin (1856–1926). In the following year, Emminghaus established a new clinic in Freiburg where he instituted a new regime of treatment, including a “non-restraint” policy. His successor on the Freiburg chair, Alfred Hoche (1865–1943), described him as a “true” and “benevolent” doctor, who in his later years became increasingly “sentient”, “critical of himself” and “fearful” (Hoche 1935: 316; translated from German). Pfister (1904: 455 f.) emphasised Emminghaus’ “phenomenal memory” and his rich and profound knowledge.



Emminghaus advocated the establishing of institutions and homes for “morally vulnerable” children and was a staunch critic of child labour, who had addressed issues of developmental psychology and pedagogical concepts as early as in his 1870 dissertation. His textbook Allgemeine Psychopathologie zur Einführung in das Studium der Geistesstörungen(1878; General Psychpathology as an Introduction to the Study of Mental Disorders) systematically introduced and conceptualised the category “psychopathology” as the gateway to clinical psychiatry: “[…] psychiatry in the narrower sense is preceded by a general psychopathology dealing with the disturbed psychic life in general without considering the symptoms, causes, etc. of the individual clinical picture” (1878: 1; translated from German). Werner Leibbrand (1959: 468) commented that Emminghaus was an “exponent of a psychology based on natural science, which essentially means brain physiology; to him, psychopathology means a pathological physiology of the cerebral cortex.” Emil Kraepelin is said to have borrowed entire passages from Emminghaus’ book for his own textbook Compendium der Psychiatrie (1883; Compendium of Psychiatry) (Castell 2003: 417; cf. Hoche 1935: 316). Probably the most important work by Emminghaus is Die psychischen Störungen des Kindesalters (1887; Mental Disorders of Childhood), in which he described the disorders occurring in the different age groups on the basis of clinical observations. Owing to this first overview publication in German language, Emminghaus is regarded as the founder of child and adolescent psychiatry in Germany (Rey et al. 2015: 48). He also contributed extensively to J. Maschka’s Handbuch der gerichtlichen Medizin (1881/82; Handbook of Forensic Medicine).


End of life and legacy

According to his wife’s notes, Hermann Emminghaus had been “suffering from depression since around 1899/1900” and was “temporarily hospitalised” due to this condition (Hass 2008: 14). Pfister (1904: 457) writes that he “finally collapsed of exhaustion, on his post.” When Alfred Hoche (1924: 231 ff.) diagnosed him with progressive arteriosclerotic brain disease, Emminghaus was given leave of absence on 24 October 1900 and eventually retired in 1902. He died of pneumonia on 17 February 1904, at the age of 58.


In the introduction to his General Psychopathology, Karl Jaspers (1963: 39) looks back at his predecessors and writes about Emminghaus: “When my Psychopathology appeared for the first time (1913) there were books by Emminghaus and Störring (…) The advantage of the book is its orderly comprehensive character, but its very comprehensiveness obscures the gulf which always exists between psychiatry and other clinical specialities. (…) Presentation is attractive and vivid throughout and the extensive bibliography makes the book an excellent reference book even today, for the older literature in particular. A wide perspective (the interest, for instance, in ethnic psychology), which is maintained along with the general medical interest, derives from the psychiatric education of earlier times. The medical classification of earlier times, which Emminghaus employed, continues in use in the general psychiatric textbooks still today.”


Since 1984, the Hermann Emminghaus Prize, sponsored by a private foundation in collaboration with the German Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy and the pharmaceutical company Lilly Germany, has been awarded to German-speaking scholars who have distinguished themselves with research in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry.



1881 Order of Saint Stanislaus, Second Class (Russian Empire).

1899 Rank of a “Hofrat” (Privy Councillor) of the Grand Duchy of Baden.

1902 Knight’s Cross, First Class with oak leaves, of the Order of the Zähringer Lion (Grand Duchy of Baden).



Castell, R. (2008, ed.): Hundert Jahre Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie. Biographien und Autobiographien. Göttingen: V&R Unipress.

Castell, R., J. Nedoschill, M. Rupps, D. Bussiek (2003): Geschichte der Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie in Deutschland in den Jahren 1937 bis 1961. Göttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht.

Emminghaus, H. (1870): Über hysterisches Irresein. Ein Beitrag zur Pathogenese der Geisteskrankheiten. Jena: Frommann.

Emminghaus, H. (1870/71): Über Rubeolen. In: Jahrbuch für Kinderkrankheiten 4, pp. 47–59.

Emminghaus, H. (1870/71a): Ein Fall von epilepsieartigen Convulsionen, such Expriment ereugbar bei einem anämischen Kinde. In: Jahrbuch für Kinderkrankheiten 4, pp. 392–298.

Emminghaus, H. (1874): Wirkungen der Galvanisation am Kopfe bei Aphonie, nachgewiesen am Bilde der empfindlichen Flamme. In: Archiv für Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten 4, pp. 559–573.

Emminghaus, H. (1874a): Über epileptoide Schweisse. In: Archiv für Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten 4, pp. 574–578.

Emminghaus, H. (1877): Meningitis cerebrospinalis epidemica. In: C. Gerhardt (ed.): Handbuch der Kinderkrankheiten 2, Krankheiten der Neugeborenen. Allgemeinerkrankungen, erster Theil. Tübingen: Verlag der H. Lauppschen Buchandlung, pp. 467–538.

Emminghaus, H. (1877): Rötheln, Rubeola, Roseola epidemica. In: C. Gerhardt (ed.): Handbuch der Kinderkrankheiten 2, Krankheiten der Neugeborenen. Allgemeinerkrankungen, erster Theil. Tübingen: Verlag der H. Lauppschen Buchandlung, pp. 334–353.

Emminghaus, H. (1878): Allgemeine Psychopathologie zur Einführung in das Studium der Geistesstörungen. Leipzig: Vogel.

Emminghaus, H. (1878a): Lyssa humana. In: C. Gerhardt (ed.): Handbuch der Kinderkrankheiten 3, erste Haelfte. Allgemeinerkrankungen, zweiter Theil. Tübingen: Lauppschen, pp. 365–382.

Emminghaus, H. (1880): Über den Wert und die Tragweite des klinischen Unterrichts in der Psychiatrie. Speech delivered at the anniversary of the foundation of the University of Dorpat on 12 December 1880. In: Petersburger Medizinische Zeitung 6, pp. 313 & 321.

Emminghaus, H. (1887): Die psychischen Störungen des Kindesalters. (Handbuch der Kinderkrankheiten. Nachtrag II). Tübingen: Laupp.

Emminghaus, H. (1895): Behandlung des Irreseins im Allgemeinen. In: F. Pentzoldt, R. Stintzing (eds.): Handbuch der speciellen Therapien innerer Krankheiten. Part IX, Vol. VI. Jena: Fischer, pp. 203–279.

Gerhard, U.-J., B. Blanz (2003): Anmerkungen zum Titelbild, Hermann Emminghaus (1845–1904). In: Der Nervenarzt 74 (1), pp. 91–93.

Hass, R. (2008): Familienchronik Emminghaus. URL: http://www.emminghaus-familie.de/Familienchronik.pdf [accessed on 6 September 2016].

Hoche, A. (1924): Hermann Emminghaus. In: T. Kirchhoff (ed.): Deutsche Irrenärzte. Vol. 2. Berlin: Springer, pp. 231–233.

Hoche, A. (1935): Hermann Emminghaus. In: Badische Biographien, Part IV. Heidelberg: Kohlhammer, pp. 315–317.

Harms, E. (1960): At the Cradle of Child Psychiatry. Hermann Emminghaus’ Psychische Stoerungen des Kindesalters (1887). In: American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 30 (1), pp.186–190.

Jaspers, K. (1946/1965): Allgemeine Psychopathologie. Berlin: Springer Verlag.

Jaspers, K. (1963): General Psychopathology. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Kindt, H. (1971): Vorstufen der Entwicklung zur Kinderpsychiatrie im 19. Jahrhundert. Zur Wertung von Herrmann Emminghaus und seiner “Psychischen Störungen des Kindesalters” (1887). Freiburg im Breisgau: Schulz.

Kraepelin, E. (1883): Compendium der Psychiatrie. Leipzig: Abel.

Leibbrand, W. (1959): Emminghaus, Hermann. In: Neue Deutsche Biographie 4. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 485–486.

Maschka, J. (1881/82, ed.): Handbuch der gerichtlichen Medizin. 4 vols. Tübingen: Verlag der H. Laupp’schen Buchhandlung.

Pfister, H. (1904): Hermann Emminghaus †. In: Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie und psychisch-gerichtliche Medizin 61 (3), pp. 455–458.

Reichert, B. (1989): Herrmann Emminghaus. Ein Pionier der Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie. Leben, Werk und Wirkungsgeschichte. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Rey, J. M., F. B. Assumpção, C. A. Bernad, F.C Çuhadaroğlu, B. Evans, D. Fung, G. Harper, L. Loidreau, Y. Ono, D. Pūras, H. Remschmidt, B. Robertson, O. A. Rusakoskaya, K. Schleimer (2015): History of child and adolescent psychiatry. In: J. M. Rey (ed.): IACAPAP e-Textbook of Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Geneva: International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions. URL: http://iacapap.org/wp-content/uploads/J.10-History-Child-Psychiatry-2015.pdf [accessed on 6 September 2016].


Jessica Thönnissen, Ansgar Fabri, Burkhart Brückner


Photograph: anonymous / Source: Wikimedia / public domain.


Referencing format
Ansgar Fabri (2015): Emminghaus, Hermann.
In: Biographisches Archiv der Psychiatrie.
URL: biapsy.de/index.php/en/9-biographien-a-z/306-emminghaus-hermann-e
(retrieved on:20.04.2024)