The Classic: Stiffening of the Spine in Flexion, a Special Form of Disease*

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Vladimir Mikhailovich Bechterew was born in 1857 in the province of Vyat', Russia, and died in Moscow in 1927. Three years after his graduation from the Military-Medical Academy, he received the title of “privat-docent,” and by 1886 was elected to the psychiatry faculty at Kazan 'University. In 1893 V.M. Bechterew was appointed to the faculty of nervous and mental illnesses of the V.M. Academy. Over 500 scientific works were written by V.M. Bechterew, the most outstanding of which are: “Leading Routes of the Head and Spinal Cord”; “Basic Studies on the Functions of the Brain”; “Nervous Illnesses in Isolated Observations”; “Objective Psychology”; “The General Diagnosis of Illnesses of the Nervous System”; and “General Foundations of the Reflexology of Man.”

There is no area of neurology with which V.M. Bechterew did not concern himself. In this are reflected the problems and achievements of neurology of his time. Having begun with a strictly morphologic approach, V.M. Bechterew investigated the field of psychoneurology. Having completed the well-composed study on the reflexology of man, the field of psychoneurology, he searched for a model of the human personality in its normal as well as its pathologic manifestations. Not long before his death, Bechterew reworked and republished his basic anatomic work, “Leading Routes of the Head and Spinal Cord,” in which he emphasized anatomy as the base of his theoretic and clinical work, the beginning and the end of his long career in neurology. V.M. Bechterew was not exclusively a neuropathologist, a psychiatrist or a reflexologist. He was a psychoneurologist in the broadest sense of the word. He painted a clear picture of the many-sided, and at the same time integral human personality, and thus combined the features of a world scientist and outstanding public man. The following classic article on the disease that later came to be named “ankylosing spondylitis” or “Marie-Strümpell disease,” was translated through the offices of Leonard F. Peltier, Classics Editor of CLINICAL ORTHOPAEDICS AND RELATED RESEARCH.

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