Freud on Schreiber

What would Freud have seen? Mutter with her legs spread

Daniel Paul Schreber was a jurist living in the early 20th century who developed schizophrenia. He wrote a memoir of his illness entitled Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. The Wikipedia account of the memoir gives more coherence to the memoir than is evident on reading the memoir. Schreber was very ill but even so highly successful. He was a prominent and respected jurist when not in the asylum.

Basically when ill Schreber was disorganized, paranoid and had flat affect. What does Freud see in all this? Repressed homosexuality.Schizophrenia is horrendous blow to one’s self-esteem. Given the times Schreber felt womanly. According to Freud Schreber lusted after his father and brother rather than like normal Freudian boys lusted after mom and wanted to kill dad. Freud’s analysis of Memoirs of My Nervous Illness is a classic case of finding what one wants to find as are all Freud’s psychological analyses.

Someone might say ‘For heaven’s sake, we are not interested in the veracity of Freud’s ideas! We are interested in the rococo method by which he reaches his conclusions. And on that basis Freud’s analysis of the Memoirs is still a great text.’

Freud was very seriously mentally ill. Freud is prominently mentioned in magazines a couple of times a year and the comment is always ‘We have moved beyond Freud but Freud shaped our world.’ This could be so but not for the better.

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