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It is always useful to review an article’s bibliography and references to get a deeper understanding of the psychoanalytic concepts and theoretical framework in it.

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Geller, J. (1992). The Unmanning of the Wandering Jew. Am. Imago, 49(2):227-262.

(1992). American Imago, 49(2):227-262

The Unmanning of the Wandering Jew

Jay Geller

“The psychoanalytic investigation of paranoia would be altogether impossible if the patients themselves did not possess the peculiarity of betraying (in a distorted form, it is true) precisely those things which other neurotics keep hidden as a secret.”

—Sigmund Freud, “Psycho-Analytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia (Dementia Paranoides)”

In 1903 Daniel Paul Schreber, Senatspräsident (or chief judge) of the Dresden State Superior Court and paranoiac, privately published his Denkwürdigkeiten eines Nervenkranken or Memoirs of My Nervous Illness (Schreber 1973; 1988) which chronicled his nine-year institutionalization for paranoia. Despite his family's best efforts to destroy all extant copies of the Denkwürdigkeiten, several managed to survive and circulate among the psychiatric and psychoanalytic communities. Eventually a copy fell into the hands of Sigmund Freud, who in 1911 published his “Psycho-Analytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia (Dementia Paranoides)” (Freud 1911a; 1911b) thereafter known as the Schreber Case. As a consequence of that analysis virtually all subsequent readings of the Schreber Case were mediated by Freud's. Indeed, thanks to Freud, Schreber's Denkwürdigkeiten, became the “most-quoted unread book of the twentieth century” (Kendrick 1990, 33). Now Han Israëls's biography has appeared. Schreber: Father and Son (Israëls 1989) employs exhaustive archival evidence to counterbalance the already extant interpretations of Schreber's case. Israëls's work, in the words of one reviewer, “chronicles that eight-decade carnival of negligence, carelessness, and plain fatuity, reducing the whole mess to silence” (Kendrick 1990, 33).

At the risk of joining this circus parade, this paper situates Schreber's case at the intersection of a number of individual, social, historical, and intertextual trajectories.

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