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Katan, M. (1953). Schreber's Prepsychotic Phase. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 34:43-51.

(1953). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 34:43-51

Schreber's Prepsychotic Phase

M. Katan, M.D.


The fourth chapter of Schreber's autobiography (p. 34) begins: 'I shall speak now of my own personal experiences during the two mental illnesses that befell me. I have been ill twice, both times as a result of mental overexertion; the first time (I was then Director of the Judicial Court in Chemnitz) on the occasion of my candidacy for the Reichstag, the second time on the occasion of the unusual burden of work that I encountered upon assuming the office, newly transferred to me, of Senatspräsident of the Supreme Court of Dresden.'

During both illnesses, Schreber spent a long time at the University Clinic at Leipzig, of which Professor Flechsig was head. 'Both times, upon my admission to the Clinic, I did not have the slightest suspicion of any antagonism existing between the Schreber and Flechsig families, or of the supernatural happenings that I have discussed in the previous chapters' (p. 34).

So far in Schreber's description we note that he speaks of the first illness, and the beginning of the second, as if they were similar. Although Schreber comments only briefly on his first illness, further evidence of this similarity is found in the fact that before any symptom of the second illness made its appearance, he dreamed repeatedly that his illness had returned, thus foreshadowing, in the second illness, a repetition of the first. At least one symptom—oppression of the heart—according to Schreber's account, was present in both illnesses.

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