J Korean Geriatr Psychiatry.  2008 Jun;12(1):3-10.

The Conceptual History of Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease: Focus on Alzheimer's Disease

  • 1Department of Neuropsychiatry, Soonchunhyang University Bucheon Hospital, Bucheon, Korea. hanyjung@schbc.ac.kr


Most histories of senile dementia begin with Alois Alzheimer's description in 1906 of the first case of Alzheimer's disease. However, the history of senile dementia is quite rich, dating back to the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers and physicians, so the history of dementia is probably as old as mankind itself. Although senile dementia has been recognized as a condition of aged individuals since at least the time of Pythagoras in the 7th century B.C., because it was dismissed as an inevitable feature of aging, it remained largely an uninvestigated disorder until the 19th century. An introduction of a scientific approach to clinical observation and the systematized classification of mental disorders in the mid-19th century that senile dementia began to be differentiated from other dementias, and was established as its own defined class of mental disorder. The identification of Alzheimer's disease at the onset of the 20th century was a turning point for the understanding of senile dementia, and the concepts and histological findings presented by the early researchers of Alzheimer's disease remain relevant still today. Here the author traces the history of the evolution of our current conceptualization of Alzheimer's disease from the Greek-Roman concept of age-associated dementia.


History; Dementia; Alzheimer's disease

MeSH Terms

Alzheimer Disease
Mental Disorders
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