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Memoirs Of My Nervous Illness : New York Review Books Classics - Daniel Paul Schreber

Memoirs Of My Nervous Illness

New York Review Books Classics

Paperback

Published: 31st January 2000
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In 1884, the distinguished German jurist Daniel Paul Schreber suffered the first of a series of mental collapses that would afflict him for the rest of his life. In his madness, the world was revealed to him as an enormous architecture of nerves, dominated by a predatory God. It became clear to Schreber that his personal crisis was implicated in what he called a "crisis in God's realm," one that had transformed the rest of humanity into a race of fantasms. There was only one remedy; as his doctor noted: Schreber "considered himself chosen to redeem the world, and to restore to it the lost state of Blessedness. This, however, he could only do by first being transformed from a man into a woman...."

Novelist Antonia White wrote of her time in Bethlem asylum in the 1920s that 'It was as if she was both in the belly of the beast and also detached, observing the process of her madness...' But for a chilling, blow-by-blow account of what it is really like to be mentally ill and to be able to record it in minute detail, nothing has yet surpassed Shreber's Memoirs, first published in 1903. Shreber was born in 1842, became a judge, had his first nervous breakdown at 42 and subsequently returned to hospital at 51 for another nine years. His delusionary world called upon him to bring back to mankind the lost state of blessedness. In pursuit of this mission, he reveals an increadible structure of Gods, nerve language, 'rays', souls and soul murder. He is compelled to think incessantly, which results in his endlessly repeating the same phrases, bellowing loudly and grimacing. At the same time, he is able to write insightful and logical letters to his wife, suggesting a capability to retain slivers of sanity within madness. When does belief cross over into religious mania and madness? Schreber wanted to publish his memoirs both as a plea for his release and to raise doubts about whether his delusional system had a basis in truth. Had he really been granted a glance behind the veil of rationality? One of the most fascinating exercises is for the reader to try to relate the phantasmagorical experiences Schreber describes, to the more prosaic medical experts' reports covering exactly the same circumstances in the Addenda. (Kirkus UK)

Introductionp. xi
Memoirs of My Nervous Illness
Prefacep. 3
Open letter to Professor Flechsigp. 7
Memoirs
Introductionp. 15
God and Immortalityp. 19
Crisis in God's realms? Soul murderp. 33
(Not printed)p. 43
Personal experiences during the first and the beginning of the second nervous illnessp. 44
Continuation. Nerve-language (inner voices). Compulsive thinking. Unmanning under certain circumstances a postulate of the Order of the Worldp. 54
Personal experiences continued. Visions. "Seer of spirits"p. 69
Personal experiences continued; peculiar manifestations of illness. Visionsp. 85
Personal experiences while in Dr. Pierson's Asylum. "Tested souls"p. 99
Transfer to Sonnenstein. Changes in the contact with rays. "The writing-down-system"; "Tying-to-celestial-bodies"p. 115
Personal experiences at Sonnenstein. "Interferences" accompanying contact with the rays. "Creation of a false feeling"p. 130
Bodily integrity damaged by miraclesp. 141
Content of the voices' talk. "Soul-conception." Soul-language. Continuation of personal experiencesp. 152
The soul's state of Blessedness as a factor in attraction. Consequences thereofp. 163
"Tested souls"; their fate. Personal experiences continuedp. 176
"Play-with-human-beings" and "Miracles." Cries of help. Talking birdsp. 185
Compulsive thinking. Its effects and manifestationp. 197
Continuation of the above; "Picturing" in the sense of the soul-languagep. 207
God and the processes of creation; spontaneous generation; insects created by miracles. "Direction of gaze." System-of-examinationp. 215
Continuation of the above. God's omnipotence and man's freedom of willp. 225
Egocentricity of the rays regarding my person. Further developments of personal affairsp. 233
Blessedness and voluptuousness in their mutual relation. Consequences of this relation for personal behaviorp. 242
Final considerations. Future prospectsp. 253
Postscripts
First Series
Miraclesp. 263
Relation of divine and human intelligencep. 265
Play-with-human-beingsp. 266
Hallucinationsp. 268
The nature of God manifested through nerve-contactp. 277
Final considerations; Miscellaneousp. 290
Cremationp. 296
Second Seriesp. 300
Appendix
Essay: "In what circumstances can a person considered insane be detained in an Asylum against his declared will?"p. 313
Postscriptp. 322
Second Postscriptp. 323
Addenda: Documents from the Court Proceedings Placing Me Under Tutelage
Medical expert's report to the Court of 9th December 1899 by Dr. Weberp. 327
Dr. Weber's report as County and Asylum Medical Officer of 28th November 1900p. 337
Grounds of appealp. 349
Dr. Weber's expert report of 5th April 1902p. 388
Judgment of the Royal Superior Country Court of Dresden of 14th July 1902p. 405
Notesp. 441
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780940322202
ISBN-10: 094032220X
Series: New York Review Books Classics
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 488
Published: 31st January 2000
Publisher: The New York Review of Books, Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.2 x 12.6  x 3.2
Weight (kg): 0.5
Edition Number: 1