Carl Lange (physician)

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Carl Georg Lange
Carl Georg Lange by Peter Most.jpg
Born(1834-12-04)4 December 1834
Died29 April 1900(1900-04-29) (aged 65)
Alma materUniversity of Copenhagen
Known forJames–Lange theory of emotion
Scientific career
FieldsNeurology, Psychiatry
InstitutionsUniversity of Copenhagen

Carl Georg Lange (4 December 1834 – 29 May 1900) was a Danish physician who made contributions to the fields of neurology, psychiatry, and psychology.

Born to a wealthy family in Vordingborg, Denmark, Lange attended medical school at the University of Copenhagen and graduated in 1859 with a reputation for brilliance.[1] After publishing on the neurological pathologies of aphasia, bulbar palsy, tabes dorsalis, and pathologies of the spinal cord, he achieved world fame with his 1885 work "On Emotions: A Psycho-Physiological Study".[1] In it, he posited that all emotions are developed from, and can be reduced to, physiological reactions to stimuli. Seemingly independently, the American William James had published a similar work the year before, but unlike James, Lange specifically stated that vasomotor changes are emotions. The theory became known as the James–Lange theory of emotion.

In 1886 Lange published "On Periodical Depressions and their Pathogenesis," an exposé on the previously undescribed illness of periodic depressions without mania known today as major depressive disorder. He asserted that the disease was extremely common in his practice. Based on observations he made of his patients' urine, he hypothesized that the illness was related to an excess of uric acid in the blood and advocated for methods of reducing this substance, including the use of lithium. His recommendations were discarded by the psychiatric community, as was his nosological assertions of the uniqueness of the disease. Lithium was later found in 1949 to be an effective treatment for mood disorders, although the concept of a uric acid diathesis was fully discredited.[1]

But a connection of uric acid and depression is not without possibility.[2]

He died in Copenhagen in 1900 at the age of 65.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Schioldann, J. (2011). "'On periodical depressions and their pathogenesis' by Carl Lange (1886)". History of Psychiatry. 22 (85 Pt 1): 108–130. doi:10.1177/0957154x10396807. PMID 21879580. S2CID 37373802.
  2. ^ Salvadore, G; Viale, CI; Luckenbaugh, DA; Zanatto, VC; Portela, LV; Souza, DO; Zarate, CA Jr; Machado-Vieira, R (2010). "Increased uric acid levels in drug-naïve subjects with bipolar disorder during a first manic episode". Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. 34 (6): 819–821. doi:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2010.02.027. PMC 3008668. PMID 20206224.

Further reading[edit]

  • Amdisen, A (1985). "Carl Lange på fransk visit i psykiatrien [C. Lange's flying visit to psychiatry]". Dansk Medicinhistorisk Aarbog. 14: 9–40.
  • Lange, Carl (1868). "On acute bulbar paralysis". Hospitalstidende: 201–203, 205–207, 209–212.
  • Lange, Carl (1871–1876). Rehabilitation and Care of the Handicapped. Copenhagen: E. Jespersen.
  • Lund, M (1991). "C. Lange – Danmarks første neurolog [C. Lange – Denmark's first neurologist]". Bibliotek for Læger (153): 362–377.
  • Schioldann, Johan (2001). Book: In Commemoration of the Centenary of the Death of Carl Lange. The Lange Theory of 'Periodical Depressions' - A Landmark in the History of Lithium Therapy. Adelaide: Adelaide Academic Press. p. 200.
  • Schioldann, Johan (2009). History of the Introduction of Lithium into Medicine and Psychiatry. Adelaide: Adelaide Academic Press. p. 390.
  • Snorrason, E (1973). "Carl Lange". Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 8: 7–8.