Case Studies of Sigmund Freud Instead, Freud read of his experience in his publication, Memoirs of My Nervous Illness and published his own analysis of Schreber eight years later in Notes upon an autobiographical account of a case of paranoia dementia paranoides In the later publication, Freud invoked his own ideas which would eventually form the basis of the psychodynamic approach in psychology. Learn more Daniel Paul Schreber was born in Leipzig, Germany in , the second of five children of Pauline and Daniel Gottlieb Moritz Schreber , the latter being a renowned physician who would become the director of a sanitorium in Leipzig in An intelligent man, he followed his older brother, Gustav, into the legal profession, with both brothers becoming judges.
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All Rights Reserved. These are my personal opinions and interests in psychology. I am not a psychologist so my conclusions should not replace specific professional help. These reviews are only meant to spark discussion and motivate people to read books that are not typically in a school curriculum. He was married, and by the age of 42 he had his first psychological breakdown.
He recovered after treatment from Dr. Flechsig, and after some years he relapsed and ended up in and out of asylums until his death. Furthermore, one morning while still in bed, I had a feeling which struck me as highly peculiar. It was the idea that it really must be rather pleasant to be a woman succumbing to intercourse. This idea was so foreign to my whole nature that I may say I would have rejected it with indignation if fully awake; from what I have experienced since I cannot exclude the possibility that some external influences were at work to implant this idea in me.
Naturally we thought of a mouse although it was very extraordinary that a mouse should have found its way to the first floor of such a solidly built house. There I was left to my fate; I spent the rest of the night mostly sleepless in this cell, furnished only with an iron bedstead and some bedding. Regarding myself as totally lost, I made a naturally unsuccessful attempt during the night to hang myself from the bedstead with the sheet.
I was completely ruled by the idea that there was nothing left for a human being for whom sleep could no longer be procured by all the means of medical art, but to take his life. His wife continued to visit him until his state worsened. My condition deteriorated so much in these four days that after her return I saw her only once more, and then declared that I could not wish my wife to see me again in the low state into which I had fallen.
From then on I also gained the impression that Professor Flechsig had secret designs against me; this seemed confirmed when I once asked him during a personal visit whether he really honestly believed that I could be cured, and he held out certain hopes, but could no longer- at least so it seemed to me — look me straight in the eye.
In his book Memoirs of my nervous illness, Paul elaborated on a complex world and religion. But unlike the human body, where nerves are present only in limited numbers, the nerves of God are infinite and eternal. They possess the same qualities as human nerves but in a degree surpassing all human understanding.
They have a faculty of transforming themselves into all things of the created world; in this capacity they are called rays; and herein lies the essence of divine creation…God is able to perceive everything that happens on earth and possibly on other inhabited planets…All He sees He enjoys as the fruits of His creative power, much as a human being is pleased with what he has created with his hands or with his mind…God left the world to their own devices and only provided continuous warmth of the sun…God did not interfere directly in the fate of peoples or individuals…It could however occur now and then as an exception…a fervent prayer might in a special case induce God to give help by intervening with a miracle…I have on innumerable occasions experienced in my own body and continue to do so daily even now that God has, for instance, the power to remove from the human body any germ of illness by sending forth a few pure rays.
But this did not occur without prior purification and sifting of the human nerves which required, according to the variable condition of the respective human souls, a shorter or longer time of preparation, and perhaps even certain intermediate stages. These souls including Jesus Christ can be from prior lives and resurrected to test souls after an apocalypse, an apocalypse which Paul thought he actually survived.
In this process the human souls concerned were called to a new human life on other planets, presumably by being born in the manner of a human being, perhaps retaining some dim memory of their earlier existence…From the voices that speak to me…I learnt of a number of persons to whom in after life a much lower station was allotted than they had held in the previous one, perhaps as a kind of punishment…Souls completely cleansed by the process of purification ascended to heaven and so gained the state of Blessedness.
I myself first felt this influence as emanating from Professor Flechsig. The number of points from which contact with my nerves originated increased with time: apart from Professor Flechsig, who was the only one whom for a time at least I knew definitely to be among the living, they were mostly departed souls who began more and more to interest themselves in me.
Everyone who realizes that all this is not just the morbid offspring of my fantasy, will be able to appreciate the unholy turmoil they caused in my head. This process of unmanning consisted in the external male genitals scrotum and penis being retracted into the body and the internal sexual organs being at the same time transformed into the corresponding female sexual organs, a process which might have been completed in a sleep lasting hundreds of years, because the skeleton pelvis, etc.
The rays of the lower God Ariman have the power of producing the miracle of unmanning; the rays of the upper God Ormuzd have the power of restoring manliness when necessary. Thus began the policy of vacillation in which attempts to cure my nervous illness alternated with efforts to annihilate me as a human being who, because of his every-increasing nervousness, had become a danger to God Himself…Professor Flechsig had found a way of raising himself up to heaven, either with the whole or part of his soul, and so making himself a leader of rays, without prior death and without undergoing the process of purification.
From this apparently so unequal battle between one weak human being and God Himself, I emerge, albeit not without bitter sufferings and deprivations, victorious, because the Order of the World is on my side. In the immediately preceding nights my male sexual organ might actually have been retracted had I not resolutely set my will against it, still following the stirring of my sense of manly honor; so near completion was the miracle.
Soul-voluptuousness had become so strong that I myself received the impression of a female body, first on my arms and hands, later on my legs, bosom, buttocks and other parts of my body. But as soon as I am alone with God, if I may so express myself, I must continually or at least at certain times, strive to give divine rays the impression of a woman in the height of sexual delight; to achieve this I have to employ all possible means, and have to strain all my intellectual powers and foremost my imagination.
Voluptuousness can be considered as part of everlasting Blessedness and is in a sense inherent in man and other living beings. Voluptuous enjoyment of Blessedness is granted to souls in perpetuity as an end in itself, but to a human being and other living creatures solely as a means for the preservation of the species. Herein lie the moral limitations of voluptuousness for human beings. An excess of voluptuousness would render man unfit to fulfill his other obligations; it would prevent him from ever rising to higher mental and moral perfection; indeed experience teaches that not only single individuals but also whole nations have perished through voluptuous excesses.
For me such moral limits to voluptuousness no longer exist, indeed in a certain sense the reverse applies. In order not to be misunderstood, I must point out that when I speak of my duty to cultivate voluptuousness, I never mean any sexual desires towards other human beings females least of all sexual intercourse, but that I have to imagine myself as man and woman in one person having intercourse with myself, or somehow have to achieve with myself a certain sexual excitement, etc.
The justification goes further into divine realms, as a permission to enjoy his sensations. God wishes it. On the other hand God demands constant enjoyment, as the normal mode of existence for souls within the Order of the World. It is my duty to provide Him with it in the form of highly developed soul-voluptuousness, as far as this is possible in the circumstances contrary to the Order of the World.
If I can get a little sensuous pleasure in this process, I feel I am entitled to it as a small compensation for the excess of suffering and privation that has been mine for many years past; it also affords some small recompense for the manifold painful trials and tribulations which I have to suffer even now, particularly when soul-voluptuousness diminishes.
I know that I do not offend against any moral duty, but am merely doing what sense dictates in these irregular circumstances; for the effect on the relationship to my wife, I must use particular discretion in contact with my wife, for whom I retain my former love in full. I may at times have failed by being too frank in conversation or in written communications.
It is of course impossible for my wife to understand my trends of thought fully; it must be difficult for her to retain her previous love and admiration for me when she hears that I am preoccupied with ideas of possibly being transformed into a woman. I can deplore this, but am unable to change it; even here I must guard against false sentimentality. He makes an acceptance that these feelings are fleeting.
It would be beyond human nature to do this; human beings are not born only for voluptuous pleasure, and therefore mere voluptuousness as the sole purpose of life would be as unnatural for me as anyone else. On the other hand, continual thinking, uninterrupted activity of the nerves of intellect without any respite, such as the rays impose on me through compulsive thinking, is equally incompatible with human nature.
The art of conducting my life in the mad position I find myself — the absurd relation between God and myself which is contrary to the Order of the World — consists in finding a fitting middle course in which both parties, God and man, fare best; in other words, if divine rays find soul-voluptuousness in my body which they can share — which alone makes entering my body acceptable to them — while I retain the necessary rest for my nerves of intellect, particularly at night, and the capacity to occupy myself in a manner commensurate with my intellectual needs.
Yet every mental activity… is always accompanied by a considerable decrease in bodily well-being. To find necessary rest from intellectual activity particularly sleep at night, also in day-time for instance after the main meal and in the early morning on awakening, I feel I am entitled to make my physical condition bearable even to the extent of obtaining a feeling of sensuous well-being by cultivating voluptuousness in the above sense.
Clearly the usual ideas of morality have been reversed in my relation to God. Voluptuousness is permissable for human beings if sanctified in the bond of marriage it serves the purpose of reproduction; but in itself it never counted for much. Like the literary analysis of Leonardo Da Vinci, Freud got a copy and attempted to do the same analysis for Schreber.
Flechsig, with God himself taking his place in due course. The persecutions then become increasingly bearable; the purpose of the threatened emasculation in terms of the World Order cause the sense of disgrace to recede. The origin of all the persecutions, though, is Flechsig, and he remains their instigator throughout the course of the illness.
The emotional importance is projected in the shape of an external power, the tone of the emotion turned into its opposite; the individual now hated and feared as a result of his persecution was once loved and admired. A surge of homosexual libido was, then, the cause of this illness, its object probably from the start Dr Flechsig, and the struggle against this libidinal arousal produced the conflict from which the manifestations of the illness sprang.
We know of no such instances as far as Schreber is concerned; but we do not hesitate to draw attention to a somatic factor that may indeed be of relevance. At the time of this illness Dr Schreber was 51 years old and found himself at a time of life which was sexually of critical importance, a time in which the previous intensification of the sexual function in women is subject to a radical regression, the significance of which appears also to extend to men.
It is doubtless part of the nature of God that He performs miracles, but a physician too performs miracles, as reported by his enthusiastic clients: he carries out miracle cures…In the case of Schreber, then, we once more find ourselves on the distinctly familiar ground of the father complex.
Schreber indeed admits to such a deprivation. His marriage, pictured as happy in other respects, was not blessed for him with children, above all with the son who might have given him solace for the loss of his father and brother, and so acted as a channel for the unsatisfied homosexual affection…Dr Schreber appears to have formed the fantasy that if he were a woman he would be more successful in having children and so to have found a way back to the feminine attitude towards his father of his early childhood years.
The delusion, which would come to be populated through his emasculation…was thus also designed to alleviate his childlessness. Projection: An internal perception is suppressed and, by way of substitute, its content, having undergone a degree of distortion, is consciously registered as an external perception…If, instead of looking for the causes of certain sensations within ourselves, as we otherwise do, we locate them externally, then this normal procedure deserves to be called projection.
Freud thus broaches the question of whether the loss of reality in schizophrenia is due entirely to the withdrawal of erotic interest, or whether this coincides with objective interest in general…The fact is that in very many cases reality disappears altogether, so that not a trace of psychological adaptation can be found in these patients. We are therefore compelled to admit that not only the erotic interest, but all interest whatsoever, has got lost, and with it the whole adaptation to reality.
Abnormal displacements of libido, quite definitely sexual, do in fact play a great role in these illnesses. But although very characteristic repressions of sexual libido do take place in the neuroses, the loss of reality so typical of [schizophrenia] never occurs. In [schizophrenia] the loss of the reality function is so extreme that it must involve the loss of other instinctual forces whose sexual character must be denied absolutely, for no one is likely to maintain that reality is a function of sex.
Moreover, if it were, the withdrawal of erotic interest in the neuroses would necessarily entail a loss of reality comparable to that which occurs in [schizophrenia].
But, as I said before, this is not the case. Another thing to be considered is that the introversion of sexual libido leads to an investment of the ego which might conceivably produce that effect of loss of reality. It is indeed tempting to explain the psychology of the loss in this way. But when we examine more closely the various things that can arise from the withdrawal and introversion of sexual libido, we come to see that though it can produce the psychology of a [retiring ascetic], it cannot produce [schizophrenia].
Signifiers for Lacan are concepts that point to phenomenon, but are not the phenomenon itself. We can imitate these signifiers and they have enormous hold on us as we compare ourselves to others and our ideals of how we should be. Those ideals stay in the unconscious and come out when there is a conflict between what we are and what we wish to be. This shows the power of belief. If we believe in certain concepts, or signifiers, our emotional investments can deeply hurt us if they are shown to be false by reality.
Signifiers or concepts point to phenomenon, but we have to check if they are pointing correctly. A form of brainwashing and disillusion. Believability can be enhanced by suggestions from parental figures and then transferred onto authority figures in society. When we trust them without evidence it creates a pressure to perform as expected repressing differing impulses in the subject. He saw an almost schizophrenic mentality in philosophy. There can be an obsessive day-dreaming about philosophical ideas.
An addiction to collect ideas, but no real action to take them on. Philosophy for 20th century philosophers had to go from ivory tower metaphysics into our day-to-day lives. In a milder sense a schizophrenic loss of reality.
Wittgenstein in fact warned against being an academic to avoid precisely this problem. Moritz Schreber was an unusual man. He wrote books about human anatomy and physiology, hygiene and physical culture.
He was devoted to body-building by gymnastics: he exercised daily and had parallel and horizontal bars built in his garden; he founded a gymnastic association, had a gymnasium built for it, and successfully urged student associations to force their members to join it. He added moral principles to his precepts for physical health, joining them in a comprehensive educational system for parents and teachers.
Memoirs of My Nervous Illness
He woke up one morning with the thought that it would be pleasant to "succumb" to sexual intercourse as a woman. He was alarmed and felt that this thought had come from somewhere else, not from himself. He even hypothesized that the thought had come from a doctor who had experimented with hypnosis on him; he thought that the doctor had telepathically invaded his mind. He believed his primary psychiatrist, Prof. Paul Flechsig , had contact with him using a "nerve-language" of which Schreber said humans are unaware. During one of his stays at the Sonnenstein asylum, he concluded that there are "fleeting-improvised-men" in the world, which he believed were divinely fabricated men, as miracles to provide Schreber with "play-with-humans" in light of a depopulation of the world.
Inside the Mind of Daniel Schreber
All Rights Reserved. These are my personal opinions and interests in psychology. I am not a psychologist so my conclusions should not replace specific professional help. These reviews are only meant to spark discussion and motivate people to read books that are not typically in a school curriculum.