Korsakov was born in Russia, received most of his education there, but he studied with Meynert in Vienna. He is universally known for the disorder which bears his name. Although he studied alcoholic polyneuritis with mental symptoms, his "Korsakovís psychosis" was the term used only when the mental disorder was accompanied by neuritis symptoms. He wrote on paranoia (paranoia hyperphantastica) as he described it in his textbook. He classified psychiatric illnesses. Known as a humanitarian, he improved conditions in mental institutions. He was the first great psychiatrist in Russia. He is considered a "moral genius" as were Pinel and Charcot.

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