Word Blindness and Word Deafness

History from Hinshelwood (1917):

Chapter 1: Acquired word-blindness:

It was Kussmaul in 1877 who first clearly pointed out that blindness for words is capable of being met with clinically as an isolated condition, and that it represents the pathological condition of a special faculty. Sir William Broadbent, five years previously, had already called attention to cases where the patients were unable to read printed and written words, but in these cases the inability to read was accompanied by speech disturbances such as verbal aphasia, or amnesia in a greater or less degree. To Kussmaul, therefore, must be given the credit of first recognizing the possibility of this inability being met with as an isolated symptom. Kussmaul's exact words are "A complete text-blindness may exist, although the power of sight, the intellect, and the powers of speech are intact." He invented the term word-blindness for this condition in which the patient, though not blind, is unable to read visible words. Sir William Broadbent, in a criticism on my first paper in The Lancet on this subject, remarked that in his judgment the employment of the term word-blindness has been misleading and unfortunate. Now I quite agree that the word has frequently been used by writers loosely with different meanings attached to ti, and therefore it may have frequenty been misleading. The fault, however lies not in the word, but in the fact that those who use it have not always a clear conception of what Kussmaul meant by it. By the term word-blindness is meant a condition in which with normal vision and therefore seeing the letters and words distinctly, an individual is no longer able to interpret written or printed language. With a a clear understanding of this definition there is nothing misleading about the term, which I think has now become permanently fixed in our medical vocabulary (p. 1-2)

Morton Pringle Morgan (1896) theorized that word blindness was caused by a problem in the left angular gyrus (British Medical Journal, November 7 issue)

During the first decade of the twentieth century, papers on congenital word-blindness were published in Holland, Argentina, Germany, France and the US (Coles, 1987, p. 215).

The term word blindness is still used, although after the 1920s it has typically been replaced by terms such as developmental dyslexia.

Writings about Word Blindness and Word Deafness, in Chronological Order

Broadbent, William (1872). Cerebral mechanism of speech and thought. Transactions of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society, 4, 24-29.

Drew, A. L. (1877, 1956). A neurological appraisal of familial congenital word-blindness. Brain, 79, 440-460.

Kussmaul, Adolf (1877) Disturbances of speech. Ziemssen's Cyclopaedia.

Tomkins, H. (1894). A case of sensory aphasia, accompanied by word-deafness, word-blindness, and agraphia. British Medical Journal, 1739, 907.

Hinshelwood, J. (1895). Word blindness and visual memory. Lancet, 2, 1564-1570.

Kerr, J. (1896). Congenital word blindness. British Royal Statistical Society.

Morgan, W. P. (1896). A case of congenital word-blindness. British Medical Journal, 2, 1378.

Worcester, W. L. (1896). Cases of paraphasia and word-deafness. American Journal of Insanity, 53, 262-275.

Hinshelwood, J. (1898). A case of 'word' without 'letter' blindness. Lancet, 1, 422-425.

Hinshelwood, J. (1899). Letters without word blindness. Lancet, 1, 83-86.

Hinshelwood, J. (1900). Letter-, word- and mind-blindness. London: H. K. Lewis.

Hinshelwood,, J. (1900). Congenital word-blindness. Lancet, 1, 1506-1508.

Hinshelwood, J. (1902). Congenital word-blindness, with reports of two cases. Ophthamological Review, 21, 91-99.

Hinshelwood, J. (1904). A case of word-blindness, with right homonymous hemianopsia. British Medical Journal, 2, 1304-1397

Fisher, J. H. (1905). Congenital word-blindness. Ophthamological Review, 11, 315.

Hinshelwood, J., (1907) Four cases of congenital word-blindness occurring in the same family, British Medical Journal, 1907, 2, 1229-1232.

Rutherford, W. J. (1909). Congenital word blindness. British Journal of Disorders in Children, 11, 484.

Hinshelwood, J. (1911). Two cases of hereditary congenital word-blindness. British Medical Journal, 1, 608-609.

Hinshelwood, J. (1912). The treatment of word-blindness, acquired and congenital. British Medical Journal,2, 1033-1035.

Hinshelwood, J. (1917). Congenital word blindness. London: H. K. Lewis & Co.

Heitmuller, G. H. (1918). Cases of developmental alexia, or congenital word blindness. Volta review, 20, 349-352.

Orton, S. (1925). Word blindness in school children. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, 14, 581-615.

McReady, E. B. (1926). Efforts in the zone of language (Word-deafness and word blindness) and their influence in education and behavior. American Journal of Psychiatry, 6, 267-277.

McGinnis. M. (1929). Diagnosis of congenital aphasia and word-deaf mutes. Oralism and Auralism, 8, 35-38.

Worster-Draught, C. & Allen, I M. (1929). Congenital auditory imperception (congenital word deafness): with report of a case. Journal of Neurological Psychology, 9.

Marshall, W. & Ferguson, J. H. Hereditary word-blindness as a defect of selective association. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders, 89, 164-173.

Drew, A. L. (1968). Congenital word blindness or specific developmental dyslexia: A review. Medical Journal of Australia.