Salomon Eberhard Henschen (1847–1930) was one of his era's most prominent doctors. Soon after already graduating from high school at age 15, he devoted himself to studying botany, traveling the world for several years to further his botanic studies. The best known of his travels is his extended stay in Brazil with the Swedish doctor, botanist and donor Anders Fredrik Regnell.
Henschen then moved on to study medicine and made a quick career for himself. In 1882, he became professor of medicine at Uppsala University. As a professor, he reformed and systematized medical training, and he also contributed to the modernization of the University Hospital, thereby establishing Sweden's first clinical laboratory. As a doctor, he was a skilled diagnostician of neurodevelopmental disorders, while in other areas, his colleagues did not share his own high opinion of his own skills. Then in 1900, after a fierce battle with his colleagues, he received a professorship at the Karolinska Institute, where he continued his efforts to improve education and health care over the last 12 years of his career.
He was an eminent scientist, who significantly contributed to increasing awareness of the nervous system's anatomy and pathology. Of note, he made major contributions in terms of clarifying the sense of sight localization in the brain's occipital lobe. He himself felt that his discoveries were worth the Nobel Prize, and thus he conducted an acclaimed public battle to achieve the award.
From an early age, Henschen displayed a considerable need of freedom from authorities. This need eventually led him to be engaged in several high-profile battles with colleagues against forced hospital confinements of mentally challenged people. In these battles, he was often alone on the weaker side.
The Swedish Physicians History states the following regarding Henschen: His disposition tended more toward his brilliance than his warmth. As a medical scientist, he was a remarkable man, one of Sweden’s principal experts in science’s modern era.
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2013, 450. , 466 p.