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Katan, M. (1950). Schreber's Hallucinations about the 'Little Men'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 31:32-35.

(1950). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 31:32-35

Schreber's Hallucinations about the 'Little Men'

M. Katan

In his autobiography, Memoirs of a Neurotic, Schreber describes how, in the beginning of his psychosis about March of 1894, he was aware of 'little men', tiny figures of human shape but only a few millimetres in size, coming down upon his head and leading a brief existence there.

Before entering into a discussion of this peculiar phenomenon, I shall first acquaint you with certain facts which are needed for the understanding of these hallucinations. The pre-psychotic period, which is the period in which Schreber had already changed considerably but without yet showing any delusions or hallucinations, is of very great importance. At one time during this period, when Schreber was in a state between waking and sleeping, the thought occurred to him how wonderful it would be to be a woman submitting to intercourse. All the symptoms which Schreber showed during the pre-psychotic period had the task of warding off the danger contained in the idea that being a woman submitting to intercourse would lead to sexual orgasms. Schreber's defences against this idea contained the anticipation of this danger. They failed when in one night he had six emissions. Immediately thereafter his psychosis began.

It was Schreber's delusion that a conspiracy had been formed against him by Professor Flechsig, the object of this conspiracy being the murder of Schreber's soul. In the event of the conspiracy being successful, Schreber would lose his soul to Flechsig, and his body too would be abused by Flechsig, or by the male nurses in Flechsig's clinic, as a kind of prostitute, and thereafter abandoned and left to decompose.

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