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Paul Kielholz

By Antonio E. Nardi         


Paul Kielholz was born November 15, 1916, in Brugg, Switzerland, and received his MD, in 1943, from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Zurich. In 1947, Kielholz joined John Eugen Staehelin’s Department of Psychiatry at the University of Basel and 12 years later, in 1959, succeeded Staehelin as head of the Department and Director of the University Clinic. He remained in the same position until his retirement in 1985.

Kielholz began his research in the late 1940s by exploring the use of narcosis and muscle relaxants in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) (Heuscher and Kielholz 1949; Kielholz and Heuscher  1949) and of the ”perfusion method” in the treatment of “acute catatonia” (Kielholz 1949). In the early 1950s, he extended his research to the study of “chronic morphinism” (Kielholz 1952). Then, in 1953, he co-authored with Staehelin the first paper on the therapeutic effect of chlorpromazine (CPZ) published outside of France (Staehelin and Kielholz 1953). Pursuing his research further with CPZ, in 1954, he reported on the therapeutic effects of the substance in depression, mania and drug (morphine and barbiturate) withdrawal (Kielholz 1954). The turning point in Kielholz’s research was the publication of his report, in 1958, with Raymond Battegay, in which they provided further substantiation of Roland Kuhn’s (1957) discovery of the therapeutic effect of imipramine (IMI) in some depressed patients (Kielholz and Battegay 1958). Subsequently, he was a member of the team which, in 1961, recognized that desmethylimipramine (DMI) was an active metabolite of IMI and implicated the major role of DMI in IMI’s antidepressant effect (Brodie, Dick, Kielholz, et al 1961). In the early 1970s, Kielholz was chairman of two influential symposia (“Depressive Illness” and “Masked Depression”), which were instrumental in establishing the place of pharmacotherapy in the treatment of depression (Kielholz 1972, 1973). By the late 1970s there were several drugs available for the treatment of depression and, in 1979, Kielholz was among the first to relate the pharmacological activity of these drugs to their therapeutic profile (Kielholz 1979). During the 1970s Kielholz was also involved in studying the effects of ”pharmacotherapy of toxicomania” (Kielholz 1974); the effects of alcohol and other drugs on “driving behavior” (Kielholz and Hobl 1977); and in developing treatment strategies, e.g., intravenous administration of antidepressants, for therapy refractory depression (Kielholz, Terzani and Gastpar 1979). Exploring possible treatments for therapy of refractory depression dominated Kielholz’s research during the 1980s (Kielholz 1986, 1990; Kielholz et al 1982).

                      Paul Kielholz died on May 25, 1990. He was 73 years old.

Brodie B, Dick P, Kielholz P, Poeldinger W, Theobold W. Preliminary pharmacological and clinical results with desmthylimipramine (DMI), G35020, a metabolite of imipramine. Psychopharmacologia 1961; 19: 457-74.

Heuscher J, Kielholz P. Praktischerfahrungen und Experimentelleuntersuchungenbei Modifizierten Elektroschock Behandlungen. SchweizerisceMedizinischeWochenschrift 1949; 70: 853-6.

Kielholz P. ÜberErgebnisse der Behadlung Acuter Katatonienmit der Durchblutungsmethode. SchweizerArchivfürNeurologie und Psychiatrie 1949; 63: 23-45.

Kielholz P. Behandlung und Prognose des Chronischen Morphinismus.Schweizerische MedizinischeWochenschrift 1952; 82: 1325-9.

Kielholz P. ÜberdieLargactilwirkungbeidepressivenZuständen und Maniensoviebei der Entziehung von Morphin-und Barbitursüchtigen. SchweizerArchivfür Neurologie und Psychiatrie1954; 73: 291-309.

Kielholz P. Depressive Illness, Diagnosis, Assessment, Treatment.Kiehlolz P, editor. Born/Stuttgart/Vienna: Hans Huber Publishers; 1972.

Kielholz P. Masked Depression.Kielholz P, editor. Born/Stuttgart/Vienna: Hans Huber Publishers; 1973.

Kielholz P. Classification of depression and the activity profile of antidepressants. Progress in Neuro-psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 1979; 3: 59-63.

Kielholz P. Treatment of therapy-resistant depression. Psychopathology 1986; 19: 194-200.

Kielholz P. Treatment of therapy refractory depressions with intravenous infusions of antidepressants. (Title translated into English from the Russian original.) Zhurnal Nevropatologii PsikhiatriiImeni 1990; 90: 53-6.

Kielholz P, Battegay R. Behandlung depressive ZuständsbilderunterspeziellerBerückschtigung von Tofranil, einem NeuenAntidepressivum.SchweizerischeMedizinischeWochenschrift 1958; 763-7.

Kielholz P, Heuscher J. Elektroshock-therapien Narkosemit curarebehandlung. SchweizerischeMedizinischeWochenschrift 199; 9: 592-6.

Kielholz P, Hobi V. Alkohol und Fahrverhalten.TherapeutischeUmschau1977; 34:803-13.

Kielholz P, Terzani S, Gastpar M. Treatment of therapy resistant depression. International Pharmacopsychiatry 1979; 14: 94-100.

Kielholz P, Terzani S, Gastpar M, Adams C. ZurBehandlungtherapieresistenterDepressionen. Ergebnisseeiner KombiniertenInfusionstherapie.Schweizerische MedizinischeWochenschrift 1982; 112 :1090–5.

Kuhn R. ÜberdieBehandlung Depressives Zustandemiteine Minodibezylderivat (G 22. 355).  SchweizerischeMedizinischeWochenschrift 1957; 87: 1135-40.

Staehelin J, Kielholz P. Largactil, ein Neues VegetativesDämpfungmittelbei PsychischenStörungen. SchweizerischeMedizinischeWochenschrift 1953; 83: 581-6.


Antonio E. Nardi

October 9, 2014