Narcolepsy and psychiatry: an evolving association of increasing interest

H.A. Droogleever Fortuyn, P. Mulders, W.O. Renier, J.K. Buitelaar, S. Overeem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Gélineau originally described narcolepsy as a disease with an organic cause. However, the disorder had undeniable emotional triggers and psychiatric-like expressions, and soon a psychiatric etiology of narcolepsy became a seriously considered option. In fact, the psychiatric view dominated scientific thinking for a long time, not necessarily to the benefit of patients. When hypocretin (orexin) defects were proven to be the cause of narcolepsy Gélineau's original disease model was shown to be right. However, the psychiatric symptoms of the disease were not forgotten afterwards, but gained a different significance: as psychiatric expressions of a brain disease. These symptoms, such as anxiety and eating disorders, can be highly debilitating and warrant clinical attention. Here, we describe the role of psychiatry in the history of narcolepsy, showing their evolving association.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)714-719
Number of pages6
JournalSleep Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Depressive Disorder
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Hysteria
  • Narcolepsy
  • Neurotic Disorders
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Historical Article
  • Journal Article


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