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Niederland, W.G. (1952). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXI, 1950: Schreber's Hallucinations About the 'Little Men'. M. Katan. Pp. 32–35.. Psychoanal Q., 21:129-130.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXI, 1950: Schreber's Hallucinations About the 'Little Men'. M. Katan. Pp. 32–35.

(1952). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 21:129-130

International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXI, 1950: Schreber's Hallucinations About the 'Little Men'. M. Katan. Pp. 32–35.

William G. Niederland

This paper, like a previous one by the same author, aims at the exploration and further clarification of certain aspects of the Schreber case which have remained somewhat obscure until now. Freud, in his classic study of Schreber's Memoirs of a Neurotic, has of course commented on these aspects, without however always going into a detailed discussion of all their implications. He has left it to others 'to trace back innumerable details of his [Schreber's] delusions to their sources and so discover their meaning'.

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Katan, in the present paper, discusses Schreber's hallucinatory 'little men', tiny figures of human shape, only a few millimeters in size, coming down upon the patient's head and leading a brief existence there. Schreber himself mentions these 'little men' very frequently throughout the first part of his memoirs and describes them as the most remarkable and most puzzling phenomena of his illness. Freud has assumed that they represent a condensation product of children and spermatozoa. In Katan's interpretation, too, the tiny creatures descending from the stars and dripping down on the patient's head at night by the thousands are spermatozoa in a symbolic rendition of a nocturnal emission. In a further elaboration of the symbolic meaning of this hallucination, Katan explains that the 'little men' also represent Schreber's male friends toward whom he felt sexually attracted with concomitant anxiety. This can be amply confirmed by a study of numerous details in Schreber's account, such as his continued personal interest in many men of his original circle, in addition to his interest in Flechsig and the male nurses at the clinic. According to Katan the 'little men', since they arouse dangerous homosexual longings in Schreber, have to die. 'Death refers both to the spermatozoa in a nocturnal emission and to these men …'

From the content of the hallucination whereby Schreber wards off the danger through the death of the persons who sexually attracted him, the author develops further insight into the structure of the hallucination and the delusion proper, and points to the difference between them.

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Article Citation

Niederland, W.G. (1952). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXI, 1950. Psychoanal. Q., 21:129-130

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