["I am rather satisfied with this interpretation of my dreams." -- real-life and work-related encounters between psychiatrist Johann Christian August Heinroth and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe].Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr. 2004 Sep; 72(9):523-31.FN
Apart from being a major pioneer of modern psychiatry, Johann Christian August Heinroth (1773 - 1843) is foremost famous as the first academic teacher, professor of this subject at Leipzig University. Despite his theoretical concepts being thoroughly investigated by medical historians, the fact that his scientific work also brought him in contact with Weimar poet and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832) has up to now not been acknowledged. This paper analyses for the first time the manifold points of contact between the two geniuses. Starting off with a retrospective on Goethe's relationship towards psychiatry in his day, this paper investigates the mutual interconnections and influences between the two. This is achieved by an analysis of yet unknown primary sources as well as Goethe's literary and scientific works. A main emphasis is also placed on Heinroth's Textbook of Anthropology of 1822 in which the psychiatrist laid out his understanding of 'relational thinking' (gegenständliches Denken), a key concept for both. This theory developed from Heinroth's dealing with Goethe's concept of "anschauung" and was to gain major importance not only for his way of gaining knowledge in general but also for his psychiatric concept. Goethe's influence on Heinroth is particularly revealed in the latter's holistic views on mental illnesses. Heinroth's visit to Goethe on 15 September 1827 can be earmarked as a sign of their mutual esteem.