Early life and education
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.
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.
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).
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.
- Korsakoff's psychosis and syndrome: Amnestic-confabulatory syndrome with three salient features (1) severe memory defect, especially for recent events; (2) confabulation (i.e., falsification of memory in an alert, responsive individual); and (3) polyneuropathy (psychosis polyneuritica), usually associated with alcoholism and malnutrition.
- Wernicke-Korsakov syndrome or Polioencephalitis haemorrhagica superior associated with Korsakov's psychosis: A condition characterized by nystagmus, ocular and conjugate gaze palsies, ataxia and psychosis due to nutritional deficiency, more specifically of thiamine and observed mainly, though not exclusively, in alcoholics.