Daniel Paul Schreber

Daniel Paul Schreber, born on July 25, 1842 in Leipzig and died on April 14, 1911, was a magistrate. It is famous for its psychotic delusions, that it tells in an autobiographical book: “Memoirs of a névropathe”.


Son of Moritz Schreber, a renowned doctor, Daniel Paul is the third in a sibling of five children.

With success, he began a career in the judiciary. In 1884, after a failure in the elections to the German National Assembly (Reichstag), it passes through a hypochondriac episode, with attempted suicide.

In October 1893, he was appointed President of Chamber at the Court of appeal of Dresden. Victim of insomnia which he attributed initially to a Burnout, it is quickly forced into nursing home. A few months later, in the midst of many hallucinations, it is suspended from his duties, placed under guardianship and placed in a specialized clinic for mentally ill.

In 1900, after a trial, he gets to leave freely of asylum and to publish his memoirs entitled memoirs of a névropathe, which expose in detail the forms of his delirium.

Delirium of Schreber

Delirium of Schreber revolves around a complex system of relations of human beings to God; It is supposed to look at any time “nerves” of individuals, metonymy of human beings. Schreber is persuaded that it persecutes because his own nerves attract God.

After his first detention (for cause of hypochondria), President Schreber is grateful to her doctor, Professor Flechsig, but these feelings are according to Freud due to a transfer process, where Schreber takes the doctor as a substitute place significant people (often loved) by Schreber. But during a non-extended his wife, Schreber was a dream (it is nocturnal pollution) where he has homosexual desires towards his former doctor. Homosexual desire which the doctor is Schreber brings object to want to become a woman. But he sends back it, Flechsig becomes his persecutor: “it be desired now became the persecutor, the content of the fantasy of desire became the content of persecution” (Freud, five psychanalyses, p444).

Subsequently, the delusions of persecution of Schreber is evolving, and God becomes the new persecutor. This is a worsening of the conflict, but also the beginning of a solution. Because he then accepted homosexual desires: it is easier to afford to God. Takes place then an greatness delusions to “streamline” its desires. Because if it is worthy of persecution, it is only because he is a powerful personality. Indeed, even the Sun fades before him. Schreber becomes the wife of God, and his fantasy of becoming a woman becomes a morbid idea: he dreams of becoming a female before copulation. And this for the reason that he never managed to have children with his wife.

Thus, the purpose of Schreber, in his paranoia, is to “repopulate the world of infants in mind schrébérien”.(Lacan demonstrated that the hypotheses of Freud as homosexual of Schreber was false, because there is no discharge in psychosis.) Homosexuality at the time of Freud was considered a perversion, of course now we know that this is not true. (Freud attempted to explain a psychotic case by the processes in neurosis as it were only theoretical basis on which he could rely.)

Freud, after others, there is concern. Lacan followed his example, in dismissing some hypotheses of Freud. The philosopher Gilles Deleuze and psychoanalyst Félix Guattari have talked about in their turn, in their theory of schizophrenia.

Interpretation of Freud

Sigmund Freud devoted a study to the memoirs of a névropathe in the five book psychanalyses, under the title “psychoanalytic notes on the autobiography of a case of paranoia: the President Schreber. General interpretation of paranoia as a consequence of homosexuality. There are first inversion of the feeling of love in hatred, and projection. In the case of Scheber, repressed homosexuality reflected first by delusions of persecution, in which his former physician, Professor Flechsig, seeks to transform it into a woman. Then, is more Flechsig that persecutes, but God. And delirium becomes mystical, Schreber, by its union with God, to be the salvation of the world.

Interpretation of Schatzman

In 1973, the American psychiatrist Morton Schatzman in Soul Murder: Persecution in the Family put to the day as the father of Schreber – Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber – had severely persecuted it in his childhood.

Interpretation of Lacan

Exposed in the chapter of the writings of Jacques Lacan, entitled “a question preliminary to any possible treatment of psychosis”, as well as in its “seminar on psychoses”, this interpretation is summarized in the article:

Interpretation of Deleuze and Guattari


p>Saint Denis in 1980, Deleuze falls on its approach (with Guattari and a student collective) of the “Schreber case”: (…) “I take an example: what is it that Schreber, the Schreber, the famous President President Schreber?” Had studied it very closely, then it had required us long. If you take this delusional, is what, you see what? It’s simple, you see: a type that stops, to be delirious what? Alsace and Lorraine. It is a young Alsatian – Schreber is German – he was Alsatian girl who defends the Alsace and Lorraine against the French army.

There is a delirium of the races. President Schreber racism is rampant, his anti-Semitism is rampant, it’s terrible. All kinds of other things in this sense. It is true that Schreber was a father. Father he is the father? It’s not nothing. The father, he is a very well known in Germany. And he is a very known for inventing of real machines torture, sadistic machines, which were very fashionable in the 19th century, and which origin Schreber. Then many people had imitated Schreber. It was machinery of torture for children, for the good maintenance for children. In the journals still the end of the 19th century, you will find advertisements of these machines. There is for example, I quote the most innocent, for example of anti-masturbatory machines, children go to bed with their hands tied, all that. And it is quite terrifying machines, because the most pure, the most discrete, it is a machine with a metal plate in the back, a support-jaw, metal, for the child to take place well in table. It had great success these machines. Then, the father, he is inventor of the machines. When it delirium President Schreber, it delirium as a whole system of education.

There is the theme of Alsace and Lorraine, there is the theme: anti-Semitism and racism, there is the theme, the education of the children. There is finally the report with the Sun, the rays of the Sun. I say, but, it delirium the Sun it delirium Alsace and Lorraine, he delirium the primitive language of the primitive God, he invents a language, which refers to forms of low German, good. It delirium Sun-God, etc. You take the text of Freud, that is what you see? Well, it is precisely that Schreber, he wrote his delirium, then this is a good case. You take the text of Freud, I assure you, finally if you remember this text – no page there is nothing all that question. It is question of the father of Schreber as father, and only, all the time, all the time. The father of Schreber, and the Sun is the father, and the God is the father, etc., etc. (…) ”

Appearance of Schreber in Dark City

For after director Alex Proyas, “d. P. Schreber” character in his film Dark City (1998) was inspired by the memoirs of Daniel Paul Schreber.

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