A chapter on Oskar and Cécile Vogt's relation to neurology and its societies in Germany

Berlin, Germany
bernd.holdorff AT gmx.de

Between the years 1900 and 1913 both were involved in several meetings and conferences held by the Berlin Society of Psychiatry and Neurology (BGPN).

In 1907 and 1908 O. Vogt (1869 - 1959) already had engaged in arguments with Max Rothmann and Louis Jacobsohn with regard to neuroanatomic subjects.In 1911 Cécile demonstrated the correlation of athetose double and status marmoratus, assisted by the neurologist H.Oppenheim; in the same year, after a clinical-anatomical demonstration of a case by Otto Maas and Oskar Vogt, conference participants challenged Vogt's correlative interpretation of a very distinct "topographic syndrome," stressing the bilateral lacunar lesions (status lacunaris), which explained pseudobulbar paralysis, mutism and astasia-abasia. The discussions between O.Vogt, G.Peritz, H.Liepmann, H.Oppenheim and Max Rothmann with regard to correlative localisation was an elaborate one and resulted in personal accusations against M.Rothmann (1868-1915) by O.Vogt, which was again the case in 1913 against Louis Jacobsohn (1863 – 1940), who claimed ownership of histological techniques.

Eventually the Vogts canceled their membership of the BGPN and again in 1916, of the Society of German Nerve Doctors, possibly referring to Oppenheim’s defeat on the meeting held during the war on war neurosis. Fortunately, in 1926 it was Otfrid Foerster who – as a consequence of his respect for the brain research conducted by the Vogts and his close cooperation with them for his own studies on human beings -- honored them with the Erb memorial medal (Erb-Denk-Münze). As a consequence they rejoined the Society of German Nerve Doctors. In 1952 they became honorary members of its s uccessor, the German Society of Neurology (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurologie).

In conclusion for the earlier period: the style of discussion was more aggressive than today; the paper of O.Maas and O.Vogt was not published; and O.Vogt's harsh reactions in controversial debates complicated and eventually disrupted the relation of the Vogts to the societies of neurology, at least for some years.

Session VII.  German Neuroscience / Germans and the Neurosciences
Thursday, 21 June 2007, 4:00 - 4:30 pm

12th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences   (ISHN)
Los Angeles, California, USA, 19-23 June 2007