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Goldberg, R.S. (1994). In Defense of Schreber: Soul Murder and Psychiatry, by Zvi Lothane, The Analytic Press, 1993, 550 p.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 54(1):103-104.

(1994). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 54(1):103-104

In Defense of Schreber: Soul Murder and Psychiatry, by Zvi Lothane, The Analytic Press, 1993, 550 p.

Review by:
Robin Steier Goldberg, Ph.D.

Most students of psychoanalysis are familiar with the case of Daniel Paul Schreber as a result of Freud's essay “Psycho-analytic Notes on an Autobiographical Case of Paranoia.” Using Schreber's Memoirs of My Nervous Illness (but without ever speaking with Schreber or any members of his family) Freud diagnoses Schreber as suffering from paranoia, evolves the connection between paranoia and repressed homosexuality, and explains the mechanism of projection. This view of Schreber remained intact until the 1970's, when a group of authors, including Niederland and Miller, reexamined the Schreber case, paying close attention to the published writings of Moritz Schreber, Daniel's father, who was a practicing orthopedist. These authors suggest that Schreber's paranoia was a result of his father's sadistic child-rearing practices. In this articulate, extensively researched, scholarly volume, Zvi Lothane challenges both the conventional psychoanalytic and traumatagenic models of the Schreber case. He suggests that Schreber's account of his “soul murder” can be best understood in the context of Schreber's relationship with his family, his psychiatrists Dr. Fleschig and Dr. Weber, and the prevailing politics of mental illness and institutionalization.

In order to support this theory the author examines in detail the life and writings of Daniel Schreber, Dr. Moritz Schreber, Dr. Fleschig, and Dr. Weber, as well as court records surrounding the question of involuntary institutionalization.

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