Saturday, February 14, 2015

Freud and Schreber: Psychoanalysis and Scientificity



The analytic investigation of paranoia presents difficulties of a peculiar nature to physicians who, like myself, are not attached to public institutions. We cannot accept patients suffering from this complaint, or, at all events, we cannot keep them for long... It is only in exceptional circumstances, therefore, that I succeed in getting more than a superficial view of the structure of paranoia... [O]f course, I see plenty of cases of paranoia and of dementia praecox, and I learn as much about them as other psychiatrists do about their cases; but that is not enough, as a rule, to lead to any analytic conclusions.

The psycho-analytic investigation of paranoia would be altogether impossible if the patients themselves did not possess the peculiarity of betraying (in a distorted form, it is true) precisely those things which other neurotics keep hidden as a secret. Since paranoics...  only say what they choose to say, it follows that this is precisely a disorder in which a written report or a printed case history can take the place of personal acquaintance with the patient. For this reason I think it is

legitimate to base analytic interpretations upon the case history of a patient suffering from paranoia (or, more precisely, from dementia paranoides) whom I have never seen, but who has written his own case history and brought it before the public in print.

I refer to Dr. jur. Daniel Paul Schreber, formerly Senatspräsident in Dresden, whose book, Denkwürdigkeiten eines Nervenkranken [Memoirs of a Nerve Patient], was published in 1903, and, if I am rightly informed, aroused considerable interest among psychiatrists. It is possible that Dr. Schreber may still be living to-day and that he may have dissociated himself so far from the delusional system which he put forward in 1903 as to be pained by these notes upon his book...

I can rely upon the arguments with which he himself - ‘a man of superior mental gifts and endowed with an unusual keenness alike of intellect and of observation’! - countered the efforts that were made to restrain him from publishing his memoirs...

No comments: