Sigbert Ganser

Sigbert Josef Maria Ganser (1853 – 1931) was a German psychiatrist.

Ganser is best remembered for describing ‘Ganser syndrome’ an hysterical disorder he first described in three prisoners while working at a prison in Halle (1898)

The features included approximate or nonsensical answers to simple questions, perceptual abnormalities, and clouding of consciousness

  • Born 24 January 1853, Dresden Germany
  • 1886 – Professor at the University in Dresden
  • Died 4 January 1931
Medical Eponyms
Ganser syndrome (1898)

Ganser syndrome is a rare and controversial condition, whose main and most striking feature is the production of approximate answers (or near misses) to very simple questions.


Ganser syndrome: a hysterical pseudo stupidity which occurs almost exclusively in jails and in old-fashioned German psychiatric textbooks

Wertham, 1949

We have been unable to locate members of his family, his papers or even a photograph of him, indeed he even has three dates of death (1923 – 1930 – 1931?) but his real death lies in the strange feast of falsification and approximate reason that has ’greeted’ his thinking.

Allen, Postel. History of Psychiatry. 1994;(5):289–319.
Major Publications


Eponymous terms


the person behind the name

Associate Professor Curtin Medical School, Curtin University. Emergency physician MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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