Sergei Korsakoff

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Korsakov in 1885

Sergei Sergeievich Korsakoff (Russian: Серге́й Серге́евич Ко́рсаков; January 22, 1854, Gus-Khrustalny – May 1, 1900, Moscow) was a Russian neuropsychiatrist, known for his studies on alcoholic psychosis. His name is lent to the eponymous Korsakoff's syndrome and Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome.

Early life and education[edit]

Sergei Korsakoff was the first great Russian neuropsychiatrist. He studied medicine at the Moscow State University, graduated in 1875 and subsequently became a physician at the "Preobrazhenski" (Russian: Преображенский) mental hospital.

From 1876 to 1879, he gained postgraduate experience in the clinic for nervous diseases under Aleksei Kozhevnikov. His thesis Alcoholic Paralysis gained him a medical doctorate in 1887.


In 1892, Korsakoff was appointed professor extraordinarius at a new university psychiatric clinic. During this time, he visited Vienna, where he was a pupil of Theodor Meynert. He was ordinarius of neurology and psychiatry from 1899 until his death the next year. He died from heart failure at the age of 46.[1]


Korsakoff was one of the greatest neuropsychiatrists of the 19th century and published numerous works in neuropathology, psychiatry, and forensic medicine. Apart from his studies on alcoholic psychosis, he introduced the concept of paranoia and wrote an excellent textbook on psychiatry. Korsakoff studied the effects of alcoholism on the nervous system and drew attention to several cases of alcoholic polyneuropathy with distinctive mental symptoms (Korsakoff's syndrome).[2]

An able organiser, Korsakoff was instrumental in founding the Moscow Society of Neuropathologists and Psychiatrists. The Zhurnal nevropatologii i psikhiatrii imeni Korsakova (Russian: Журнал невропатологии и психиатрии имени Корсакова, Korsakoff's Journal of Neuropathology and Psychiatry) was named after him.

Associated eponyms[edit]


  • 1890 Eine psychische Störung combinirt mit multipler Neuritis (Psychosis polyneuritica seu Cerebropathia psychica toxaemica)
  • 1890 Ueber eine besondere Form psychischer Störung, combinirt mit multipler Neuritis


  1. ^ Vein, Alla (2009). "Sergey Sergeevich Korsakov (1854–1900)". J Neurol. 256 (10): 1782–1783. doi:10.1007/s00415-009-5289-x. PMC 2758215. PMID 19690905.
  2. ^ Kessels, Roy P. C. (2010). "Korsakoff Syndrome". The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. doi:10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0490. ISBN 9780470479216.

Further reading[edit]

  • Firkin, Barry G.; Whitworth, J. A. (2002). Dictionary of Medical Eponyms (2nd ed.). Boca Raton: Parthenon. ISBN 978-1-85070-333-4.