Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Head to head

Should eponyms be abandoned? No

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 30 August 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:425

What did he do in the war

I must admit to enjoying the richness of those eponyms which I have
mastered. For the same reason I hated them as a student.

In relation to this article, I once heard the autism expert Fred
Volkar say that concerns about what Hans Asperger did in the war, lay
behind delays in recognising his work on children with "autistic
psychopathy". He said that he had been wrongly suspected of Nazi
sympathies. Wikipedia is somewhat coy on the subject;, saying that he was part of the
"youth movements" of the 1920's and that it isn't known what he did in the

Lorna Wing, child psychiatrist, who did so much to bring attention to
these children, has said that she did not want to invent a separate
category, but to bring recognition to the broader autism spectrum. I doubt
that these children would have such a high profile without the eponym.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

05 September 2007
Andrew Charters
Child Psychiatrist
Barnsley, S70 1LP