BACKGROUND In 2008 it will be 100 years since the term 'schizophrenia' was introduced by Eugen Bleuler. Although the name 'schizophrenia' will still be used in dsm-v, the concept of schizophrenia has undergone a remarkable transformation in the course of time. AIM To provide a historical reconstruction of the genesis of Bleuler's schizophrenia concept and to ascertain what influence it has had on our current thinking about the group of psychotic disorders. METHOD A literature search (up to February 2007) was carried out using books and Pubmed, Embase and the Cochrane Library with the key words 'schizophrenia', 'Bleuler' and 'dementia praecox'. results In 2008 the biomedical schizophrenia concept seems to have more in common with Kraepelin's dementia praecox concept than with the concept as envisaged by Bleuler. Although the dsm-v diagnostic criteria have not yet been definitively defined, they are expected to differ only marginally from the criteria set out in dsm-iv-tr. CONCLUSION Because the biomedical schizophrenia concept has not been validated, uncritical use of the concept may well constitute a threat to empirical research into the neurobiological and neuropsychological determinants of psychotic symptoms. Therefore, deconstruction of the current concept is advocated, especially where it is put at the service of empirical scientific studies.