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Lothane, H. (2020). Schreber's Law: Jurisprudence and Judgment in Transition, Edited by Ahron L. Friedberg, M.D. by Peter Goodrich. University Press Ltd., Edinburgh., 2018, 163pp., $125 (hardback).. Psychodyn. Psych., 48(3):352-356.

(2020). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 48(3):352-356

Schreber's Law: Jurisprudence and Judgment in Transition, Edited by Ahron L. Friedberg, M.D. by Peter Goodrich. University Press Ltd., Edinburgh., 2018, 163pp., $125 (hardback).

Review by:
Henry Lothane, M.D.

Before I read his book, I had reached out to Professor Goodrich of New York Cardozo School of Law and received from him two papers (Goodrich, 2015, 2016). In both, he acknowledged my “definitive study of the case history is Lothane (1992)” (2015, p. 1); that Schreber “is the subject of a monumental defense by Zvi Lothane, justly titled the de facto Dean, the Doyen of Schreber studies” (2016, p. 77), an honor given to me by Eric Santner in 1996 (p. xiv). But I am especially gratified that he cited my 1982 paper on hallucinations. In the book, Goodrich cites me on more pages than listed in the index. We discussed Schreber during many encounters, and later I participated in Schreber programs organized by Goodrich at Cardozo.

Thus, it astonished me to read that “no attention has been paid to [Schreber's] legal discourse” (p. vii). In fact, I discussed Schreber as a legal authority and his lawsuit to regain his freedom in 1992; and in 2011 I called attention to the glaring omission of Schreber's important subtitle in the 1955 Macalpine and Hunter translation of Schreber's Memoirs. That subtitle was also the title of Schreber's essay on forensic psychiatry (Schreber, 1955, pp. 363-376). Moreover, in that essay the word Geisteskranke was mistranslated as “mentally ill” (a term that covers nonpsychotic disorders as well) instead of the correct term “psychotic” even though their translation has “insane” the synonym of psychotic: “In what circumstances can a person considered insane be detained in an asylum against his declared will?” (p. 363). They also expunged Schreber's crucial word, his self-diagnosis as Gemüthskranke (p. 376), a patient suffering from a mood disorder. Schreber was correct in rejecting Weber's claim that he was paranoid and psychotic forever and that his illness would forever impair his everyday functioning. In fact, Schreber had three depressive episodes: moderate in 1884, severe in 1893, fatal in 1907, each one triggered by a significant loss.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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