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Psychoneurological Institute

The Psychoneurological Institute (which bears the name of the prominent scientist of our country Vladimir Mikhailovich Bekhterev since 1925) is the first in Russia scientific research establishment and institute of higher education organized for scientific elaboration of psychology, psychiatry, neurology and other disciplines which study human psychology.

The history of foundation of the Psychoneurological Institute is connected with the 1904 appeal of the International Association of Academies (Russia was represented there by V.M. Bekhterev and A.S. Dogel) to the countries of the world with a proposal to found institutes for research of the nervous system. Soon, Switzerland and Austro-Hungary took up the proposal, whereas Germany and France already had such institutes.

It should be noted that already at the beginning of 1903 V.M. Bekhterev got an idea of organizing an institute for psychological and neurological researches. Bekhterev had shared his plans with members of the "Russian society of normal and pathological psychology" who supported him. Soon, the "Organizing Committee" was formed and active work at drawing up of the future Institute's statute began.

On June 9th, 1907 Russian Emperor Nicholas II considered the question concerning organization of the Psychoneurological Institute in Saint Petersburg and made an inscription of approval in a Special Register of the Council of Ministers. This day is regarded as formal date of foundation of the Institute.

As distinct from its foreign counterparts, the Psychoneurological Institute was conceived to be not only a scientific research establishment, but also an institution of higher education. V.M. Bekhterev followed the principle of organization of science and higher education laid down already in 1724 by Peter I when founding the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences and the University attached to it.

It was supposed that the Institute will be organized using private donations. The first sum of money amounting to 50 ths rubles was contributed by the Alafuzov family, then V.T. Zimin donated 52 ths rubles for organization of the Paedological Institute, landowners Skoropadsky - 25 ths rubles for building of the clinic for treatment of epilepsy. During the time of organization of the Institute V.M. Bekhterev invested about 30 ths rubles in its construction. A board of trustees was formed with the purpose of providing the Institute with material resources. The board included both persons who had made financial contributions and those "in a position to be of a particular use to the Institute due to their experience and social status", viz. the Alafuzov family, V.T. Zimin, M.P. and P.P. Skoropadsky, Count A. D. Sheremetyev, Count I.V. Stenbok-Fermor, Prince S.N. Volkonsky, Prince A.P. Demidov-San Donato, a. o.

Whereas the Psychoneurological Institute founded mainly on private donations was under the Ministry of Public Education, it could permit itself certain liberties: it admitted persons of both sexes and all confessions and also those who had finished not only classic gymnasiums, but also business and technical high schools, teachers' colleges, and other secondary educational institutions. It allowed to provide access to higher education for the representatives of different strata of society.

The education in the Basic Faculty organized in the Institute was obligatory for entrants of any faculty and lasted 2 years. When V.M. Bekhterev was organizing the Basic Faculty, he proceeded from the assumption that prospective scientific and practical work of a physician, teacher or man of law requires philosophical education which would allow future specialist "to understand mutual relations and dependences between separate scientific disciplines". Changes of the terms of admission and the structure of educational program were far from being the only novelty which accompanied the organization of the Institute.

In 1907 in the Institute there were organized the first in Russia chairs of sociology, surgical neuropathology, psychotherapy, urology, social and industrial medicine; was given the first in Europe course of scientifically grounded narcology, was opened the first in the world Antialcoholic Institute. The idea of foundation of the Institute was so attractive that the best scientists of the capital decided to render assistance in its organization. Thus the course of sociology in the Basic Faculty was given by Professors M.M. Kovalevsky and Ye.V. De Roberty, general psychology - Prof. A.F. Lazursky, biological foundations of comparative psychology - Prof. V.A. Wagner, psychology of myth and primitive beliefs - Prof. D.N. Ovsyaniko-Kulikovsky, anatomy - Prof. V.M. Istrin, church Slavonic languages - Prof. I.A. Bauduin de Courtenait, a. o.

On completing the Basic Faculty the attendants of the Institute were proposed to continue their education at following faculties: educational, juridical; medical (since 1911); zooveterinary faculty and chemicopharmaceutical department (since 1915).

Despite the curriculum for 1907-1908 was not yet completely drawn up and there were no permanent rooms for conducting studies, still a decision was made to begin the first studies in general subject of the short course of the Basic Faculty in February, 1908, with the purpose of popularizing the Institute, as "Russian society has been still insufficiently informed of organization and objectives of the Institute". Because lecturing was planned only for the period of 3,5 months (from 03.02 to 15.05.1908), it was decided to take tuition fees in this semester 30 rubles in all instead of 100-150 a year as it had been envisaged earlier in the Institute's income item.

On 20.12.1907 Prof. P.F. Lesgaft's proposal of renting the room for lecturing in the SPb Biological Laboratory (Angliysky Pr., 32) was accepted. Earlier those rooms had been occupied by the Private Higher School closed by the time. P.F. Lesgaft believed that the SPb Biological Laboratory could put at Institute's disposal 2 or 3 lecture rooms for 150 to 200 attendants evenings from 4:00 to 10:00 p.m. However, it was a poor choice due to remoteness of rented rooms from the city centre, impossibility of both conducting morning sessions and reequipment of the lecture rooms to meet the objectives of the Institute. Therefore, already in a month (22.01.1908) another rooms were rented - merchant Gruzdev's house (Nevsky Pr., 104). The owner agreed to rebuild and equip it in the interests of educational process on favorable terms for the Institute. In 1908, 421 attendants including 313 females were admitted to the first year studies.

It should be noted that 36 attendants from poor families were completely released from tuition payments.

The opening of the courses took place on 03.02.1908 in the Alexander Hall of the SPb City Duma in the presence of many visitors. Speeches were delivered by Prof. V.M. Bekhterev "Objectives of the Psycho-Neurological Institute", Prof. V.A. Wagner "Comparative psychology and its objectives", Prof. M.M. Kovalevsky "Problems of comparative history of institutions", and Prof. Ye.V. De Roberti "Problems of sociology". "Perceiving the man" - in this manner V.M. Bekhterev formulated the motto of the Psycho-Neurological Institute.

The second group of entrants was admitted in September of the same year 1908. It numbered 479 attendants, and studies were conducted already at Nevsky Pr., 104. At the end of 1908 it was taken a decision of reorganization of Institute's courses into faculties, attendants being referred to as students.

Already in the first academic year, following teaching and educational circles for students were organized: 1) research and pedagogical circle directed by Prof. V.A. Wagner, 2) historico-philosophical (instructor K.F. Zhakov), 3) scientific literary (instructor D.N. Ovsyaniko-Kulikovsky), 4) scientific literary for students of technical high schools (instructor N.I. Korobko), later circle for the study of Esperanto (instructor I.A. Baudouin de Courtenait), 5) N.K. Mikhailovsky literary circle (instructor S.A. Vengerova), and 6) psychological (instructor A.F. Lazursky).

Courses given in the Basic Faculty during the first year included following subjects: 1) physics, 2) inorganic chemistry, 3) geology, 4) general biology, 5) anatomy, 6) physiology, 7) general and experimental psychology, 8) logic, 9) history of philosophy, 10) sociology, 11) general history, 12) history of Russian literature, and 13) theology.

Disciplines lectured on in the Basic Faculty during the second year: 1) higher mathematics, 2) physical geography, 3) organic chemistry, 4) general biology, 5) anatomy and histology of the nervous system, 6) physiology, 7) psychophysiology of sensory organs, 8) comparative psychology, 9) history of philosophy, 10) history of economic theories, 11) statistics, 12) general history, 13) history of the world literature, 14) history of arts, and 15) history of culture.

Specialized faculties, namely pedagogical (historico-philological department and that of natural history), faculty of law, and medical gave in their third year a course of lectures in disciplines such as: 1) social psychology, 2) general psychopathology, 3) anthropology and ethnography, 4) anatomy and physiology of childhood with school hygiene, 5) psychology of childhood, 6) pedagogical psychology, 7) history of pedagogical teachings, 8) pathopedagogics, and 9) language physiology and pathology. Furthermore, specialized faculties gave lectures in all subjects included in curricula of corresponding faculties of governmental universities. The Institute introduced teaching of German, English, French languages and the Latin.

The first Dean of the Basic Faculty was Prof. A.F. Lazursky, Secretary - Prof. D.V. Feldberg; Pedagogical Faculty, Dept of Natural History, Dean Prof. V.A. Wagner, Secretary Prof. N.A. Orlov; Historico-Philological Dept, Dean Prof. N.I. Kareyev, Secretary Prof. Ye.V. Tarle; Faculty of Law, Dean Prof. M.M. Kovalevsky, Secretary M.A. Reissner; Medical Faculty, Dean Academician V.M. Bekhterev, Secretary Prof. Yu.K. Belitsky.

In 1910, students' associations of fellow-countrymen from different regions of Russia such as Vyatka, Caucasus, Perm', Baltic Territories, Samara, and Saratov began to get organized in the Institute.

When conceiving the idea of the Psycho-Neurological Institute V.M. Bekhterev believed that for the development of each scientific orientation in psychoneurology: psychiatry, neurology, narcology, pedology, criminology, a. o. it was necessary to create separate auxiliary scientific institutions that would just constitute a specific structure of the new Institute. Thus were organized: Paedological Institute (1907), Criminological Inst. (24.01.1908), Laboratory of Experimental Psychology (1909), Neurosurgical Clinic (01.09.1910, in temporary premises, Bolshoi Pr., P.S., 41); Physiotherapeutic Clinic (October, 1911, Kuznechny Per., 14), Antialcoholic Institute, etc. There were organized 15 research and educational institutions in all.

For working-out the overall plan for the future Institute there was invited the architect of the Imperial Court R.F. Meltzer. He was assisted by architects S.S. Korvin-Krukovsky and A.I. Balinsky.

In the same year 1910, a site of 30 000 square sazhen [1 sazhen is equal to 2.13 m] situated in the outskirts of St. Petersburg (Nevskaya Zastava) near the chapel of Our Lady in Mourning was put gratis at the Institute's disposal by the Government, and on October, 1st, stone-laying ceremony of the Institute's main building, building of the Experimental Clinical Institute for Alcoholism Research, and clinic for treatment of epileptic patients took place. In 1911 already construction of these buildings was finished, and during the summer 1911 the Institute moved from the Gruzdev house to its own premises. The Experimental Clinical Institute for Alcoholism Research, called more often Antialcoholic Institute, was the only in the world institute for investigation of the alcohol effect on organism. In 1911 at an exhibition in Turin (Italy) the Psychoneurological Institute was given the highest award for organization of this institute.

In 1913 the International Congress in Paris which discussed the questions of struggle against alcoholism, unanimously adopted a resolution on expedience of giving to the Antialcoholic Institute the status of an international research center.

In autumn 1911, in connection with the opening of admission to the medical faculty already1142 students enrolled. At the same time the construction of buildings of the psychiatric clinic, surgical and neurosurgical clinics named after N.I. Pirogov and the Paedological Institute has begun. The construction was supported both by private contributions (Her Princely Highness I.I. Paskevich made a donation of 200 000 Rub. for the construction of the neurosurgical clinic, Prof. Yu.K. Belitsky - 12 000 Rub.for equipment of the clinic for treatment of epilepsy) and the State (in 1912 Ministry of Finance allocated 325 000 Rub. for construction and equipment of the Antialcoholic Institute; Ministry of Public Education - 28 000 Rub. for construction of the Paedological Institute; Ministry of Internal Affairs - 35 000 Rub. for construction of the clinic for treatment of epilepsy).

The scientific work of the Institute was noted by its high productivity. For instance in 1911 the scientists of the Institute published more than 400 articles and papers on different questions pertaining to the main objectives of the Institute. In 1911 the Institute was awarded a diploma of the International Exhibition of Hygiene in Dresden (Germany) for its investigations in the field of reflexology. The same year the Institute began publishing the journal entitled "Herald of Psychology, Criminal Anthropology And Paedology" (Rus.).

In 1911 refresher courses for psychiatrists and neuropathologists were organized and conducted by the Institute for the first time. Lectures on the recent achievements in the above fields were given by the leading clinical specialists during 6 weeks - from January, 24th, to March, 5th. 25 therapists received training. Programs of similar courses for doctors of other specialities had been prepared too, but in 1914 the beginning of the World War I stopped the implementation of this project.

By the beginning of the academic year1913-1914, when clinical studies for the students of the 4th year of the Medical Faculty started, the Institute was using for this purpose several clinics of St. Petersburg, namely Obukhov, Botkin, Peter and Paul, St. Maria Magdalene, St. Miraculous Nicholas hospitals, Dr. A.E. Bari's psychiatric clinic, Asylum of the Fraternity in the Name of the Holy Mother for children - idiots and epileptics, and other patient care institutions of St. Petersburg.

By the end of the academic year 1914-14 the Institute's teaching staff included 75 professors, 41 lecturers, 37 demonstrators and laboratory assistants.

Institute's attendants took active part in the public life of Russia which is evidenced by the Police Department reports. Among them were prominent figures of the revolutionary movement such as L. Reissner, G. Roshal', S. Nakhimson, P.N. Berezin, Ada Lebedeva ( after the Bolshevist revolution - commissar of social security of Siberian government), a. o. It resulted in that in 1912, Tsar Nicholas II made with His own hand a note on the official report of the Governor of St. Petersburg on revolutionary feelings among the students, in the section pertaining to the Psycho-Neurological Institute: "What benefit derives Russia from this Institute? I wish to have a well-founded answer".

The Minister of Public Education L.A. Kasso presented a report on antigovernmental feelings of students of the Psycho-Neurological Institute recommending to close it. On July, 2nd, 1914, the Council of Ministers under the chairmanship of I.L. Goremykin considered the L.A. Kasso's report and concluded that "today, in the time of a relative pacification, such measure would undoubtedly produce a highly unfavorable impression in public opinion, the more undesirable because the Institute is financed by private funds." On July, 28th, 1914. Nicholas II appended his resolution of consent to this document. In nine days he signed a manifesto on the outbreak of war.

The year 1914 was especially difficult for the Institute, since many its professors and lecturers were drafted into the army.

Military hospitals for wounded soldiers with 545 beds were opened in buildings of the Neurosurgical Clinic and Antialcoholic Institute. Prominent Russian neurosurgeon L.M. Pussep and his colleagues have saved the life of many those seriously wounded. In addition a twenty-four-hour nursery for children of drafted reservists with 40 beds and a separate military hospital named after the Psycho-Neurological Institute for the seriously ill neurotic soldiers in premises of the Physiotherapy Polyclinic (Kuznechny Per., 14). The Institute took active part through one- time and monthly payments in organization and maintenance of an intermediate stage hospital named after the Petrograd Institutions of Higher Education.

Later the Psychiatric Institute for the treatment of the wounded soldiers suffering from mental diseases, and in 1916 the Clinic of Nervous and Mental Diseases was transferred under the jurisdiction of the Tatiana Committee (public organization named after the Russian Grand Princess Tatiana) that was resolving problems of refugees.

In 1915 owing to the revealed extreme dependence on Germany in training of pharmacists and providing supplies of medicaments the Institute opened a Chemico-Pharmaceutical Department for 400 attendants. Neither any medical institute of Petrograd nor the University did not have such an educational establishment.

In the spring of 1915, on the proposal of the Ministry of Public Education the Institute gave a special training course for grounding medical students of the 5th year in the responsibilities of acting doctors, students of the 4th year - in those of auxiliary doctors, and in May the Institute sent to the front-line forces 56 acting doctors and more than 200 auxiliary doctors. In addition more than 300 students were drafted to the Army in the Field, many of them went to the font line and were killed in action.

In 1916, after a thorough inspection executed by the Ministry of Public Education, the courses at the Psycho-Neurological Institute were given at last a status of the "Private Petrograd University" with the rights of governmental institutions of higher education. V.M. Bekhterev was elected President of the University again. In the same year 26 students of the Medical Faculty received a rank of doctor. The students of other faculties sat for State examinations in the Petrograd Government University; many of them received excellent marks and were given a possibility to fill positions of lawyers, teachers, trustees, etc.

In the spring of 1917 more 71 students were awarded doctor's certificates.

By 1918 about 12 000 students graduated from the Institute, among them Pitirim Sorokin - world-known sociologist; film directors Dziga Vertov and Abram Room; authors and journalists Larisa Reissner, M. Koltsov, Isaak Babel, diplomat A.Ya. Arosev; medical men: V.N. Myasischev (Director of the Psychoneurological Institute in 1939-1961), L.M. Mariampolsky (Director of the 2nd Leningrad Medical Institute [LMI], later Head of the Personnel Department, People's Commissariat of Health), F.F. Petrov - Director of the 2nd LMI, previously Member of the Military Board for Organization of the Red Army, a. o.

On 24.02.1917 in connection with the revolutionary situation developed in the capital Minister of Public Education N.K. Kulchitsky issued an instruction on closing the Institute. This instruction did not reach the Institute, since the days of the February Revolution commenced followed then by the October events.

In 1919, after the Bolshevist Revolution of 1917, a reorganization of the Higher School in Petrograd took place, and the Psychoneurologicl Institute became solely a research institution. In the same year 1919 a number of institutions of higher learning, such as today's Saint-Petersburg I.I. Mechnikov State Medical Academy, Saint-Petersburg State Chemico-Pharmaceutical Academy, and others were organized based on the faculties of the Second Petrograd University attached to the Psychoneurological Institute (this name was given to it in 1918). The treatment and research work in the Institute continued along the topical lines in psychiatry, neurology, psychology, psychotherapy, neurosurgery, and narcology. At that time already patients from all age groups including children and elderly were admitted in the Institute for treatment and examination.

In 1925, in connection with the fortieth anniversary of V.M. Bekhterev's professorship the Institute was given the name of its founder, and in 1926 it was transformed into a clinical hospital for the patients of psychoneurological profile. However, in 1932 it began functioning as an Institute again, the more so since its collective could retain all scientific personnel. The research work continued successfully.

In the times of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 an evacuation hospital was functioning on the basis of the Institute and the treatment and research work continued also in conditions of the Leningrad blockade.

In the post-war years the Institute's scientists made an important contribution to the development of the Leningrad school of psychiatry and neuropathology. R.Ya. Golant, T.Ya. Khvilivitsky, Ye.S. Averbukh, R.Ya. Vovin, Yu.L. Nuller, V.N. Myasischev, G.Z. Levin, I.M. Tonkonogy and many others worked in the Institute successfully. Just the Institute has become the parent institution as concerns rebirth of clinical psychology, development of psychotherapy in our country. Currently the V.M. Bekhterev Institute school of psychotherapists is the leading school in Russia. In the last decade the work of the Institute's Training Center recommenced. It carries out postgraduate training of therapists in accordance with the profile of the Institute in internship, residency, and research studentship and also in various series of lectures. More detailed information can be obtained on the Institute's Internet site.

Since 1993 the Institute is a World Health Organization Centre of scientific research and training of personnel in the field of mental health. The Institute is maintaining scientific contacts with many leading foreign scientific centers and therefore it is not by accident that more than 1000 specialists from 36 countries of the world took part in the Institute's Centenary festivities.

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© СПб НИПНИ им. В.М.Бехтерева
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