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Kelly, K.V. (1997). In Defense Of Schreber. Soul Murder And Psychiatry. By Zvi Lothane. Hillsdale, NJ/London: The Analytic Press, 1992. 550 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 66:122-125.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 66:122-125

In Defense Of Schreber. Soul Murder And Psychiatry. By Zvi Lothane. Hillsdale, NJ/London: The Analytic Press, 1992. 550 pp.

Review by:
Kevin V. Kelly

Reading this book is an ambitious and daunting project. One can only wonder what writing it must have been like. One may also wonder about the motivation for writing it. What kind of ambition fueled such an enormous undertaking? It is clear that the author aspired to write the definitive work on the Schreber case and that he succeeded. But the project appears even more ambitious than this, for the author uses the Schreber case, and the mountains of data he has amassed around it, to advance impassioned arguments about Freud, psychoanalysis, and psychiatry, about life, love, and the human condition.

Lothane modestly describes William G. Niederland as “the dean of Schreber studies worldwide,” but it is evident that with the publication of this book, Lothane himself has earned that title. This tome is definitive, both in its scope and in its sheer bulk. Throughout the text, and most exhaustively in the chapter entitled “How Others Have Interpreted Schreber,” the author summarizes and discusses all previous treatments of the case and most often finds them wanting. He reserves his most extensive comments for the best-known theories, those of Freud, of Niederland, and of Schatzman, but he also cites discussions of Schreber by numerous eminent psychiatrists (including Bleuler, Kraepelin, Jaspers, and Szasz) and analysts (including Jung, Melanie Klein, and Fairbairn) as well as those by neurologists, historians, computer analysts, playwrights, philosophers, and mystics. He also provides extensive biographies, going back three generations or more, of all the major actors in Schreber's drama. More than a third of the book's 550 pages are devoted to endnotes, synopses, appendices, and other supporting data; the bibliography includes works in seven different languages. It is clear that the researcher left no stone unturned, and the author left no finding uncited. In the future, no one will be able to comment responsibly of the Schreber case without reading and referring to this book.

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