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He rejected psychoanalytical theories that posited innate or early sexuality as the cause of mental illness, and he rejected philosophical speculation as unscientific.
He focused on collecting clinical data and was particularly interested in neuropathology (e.g., diseased tissue).
While there, Kraepelin wrote a prize-winning essay, "The Influence of Acute Illness in the Causation of Mental Disorders".
While he proclaimed his own high clinical standards of gathering information "by means of expert analysis of individual cases", he also drew on reported observations of officials not trained in psychiatry.
What distinguishes each disease symptomatically (as opposed to the underlying pathology) is not any particular (pathognomonic) symptom or symptoms, but a specific pattern of symptoms.
In the absence of a direct physiological or genetic test or marker for each disease, it is only possible to distinguish them by their specific pattern of symptoms.
The German American Rockefeller family's Rockefeller Foundation made a large donation enabling the development of a new dedicated building for the institute, along Kraepelin's guidelines, which was officially opened in 1928.
Kraepelin spoke out against the barbarous treatment that was prevalent in the psychiatric asylums of the time, and crusaded against alcohol, capital punishment and the imprisonment rather than treatment of the insane.