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Edwards, A. (1978). Schreber's Delusional Transference: A Disorder of the Self. J. Anal. Psychol., 23(3):242-247.

(1978). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 23(3):242-247

Schreber's Delusional Transference: A Disorder of the Self

A. Edwards, M.D., M.R.C.P., F.R.C. Psych.


IT WAS IN 1907 that Jung published ‘The psychology of dementia praecox’ (JUNG 2), and for him, and also for analytical psychology, the study of disorders of the self have always been of major interest. Now, with the presentation by Fordham of his clinical work and theoretical views on autism (FORDHAM 1), it seems possible to begin to extend his approach and insight into other clinical areas, and to look again at the schizophrenias, borderline states, narcissistic personality disorders, and homosexuality.

Just as in molecular biology, research focuses on the complexities of the nucleus of the cell, the D.N.A., and the R.N.A. messenger processes, so in our field it is the pathology of the original self, and of the deintegrative-reintegrative archetypal processes, the fixations of, and regression to, the early internalised self-object relationships and the interference with the development of identity, which are of concern. With these ideas in mind, I thought it might be of interest to look again at some features of the paranoid psychosis and psychotic transference towards his physician described by Daniel Paul Schreber in his Memoirs of my nervous illness. Originally published in German in 1903, it was translated into English by Macalpine and Hunter in 1955 (SCHREBER 5).

Clinical Account

Schreber was an eminent judge who, before his illness, had been given positions of increasing responsibility. Though married, he was childless, and this had been for him a matter of some concern. His young wife was diabetic and had had a series of six still-births. His first psychotic breakdown was at the age of forty-two, from which he recovered after six months. At fifty-one there was a recurrence and, as before, he was treated by Professor Fleschig of the Psychiatric Clinic of the University of Leipzig. After seven months he was moved to a mental hospital, the Sonnenstein, where he remained for a further nine years.

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