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Memoirs of My Nervous Illness

Memoirs of My Nervous Illness

Memoirs of My Nervous Illness

By Daniel Paul Schreber
Translated and Edited by Richard A. Hunter and Ida Macalpine
Introduction by Rosemary Dinnage

"[Memoirs of My Nervous Illness examines] what happens when the human mind works in ways that are mysterious even to its owner."The New Yorker

"Schreber is appealing because his writing is loose and vague, full of sex and politics—a kind of information pornography. It fulfills the pleasures of his readers whatever their ideological persuasion."—Giovanni Intra, Bookforum

"Since...[its publication in 1903] it’s been widely regarded as the most revelatory subjective account of mental illness ever put forward...This edition, the first for decades, represents a very welcome return to print....To call this epiphanic confession a cross between Hildegard of Bingen and Philip K Dick may demarcate its territory, but it gives little idea of the universe of detail and the evangelical white heat of its sustained visionary narrative. Schreber was undoubtedly barking mad, as we’re reminded by the dry psychiatric reports on his progress, which are included in this volume. But we’re also reminded throughout that barking madness can coexist with a razor-sharp legal mind, astonishing personal courage and a boundless love for humanity."—Mike Jay, Fortean Times, The Journal of Strange Phenomena

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...."

Composed while Schreber was confined to a psychiatric hospital and published at the outset of the twentieth century, Memoirs of My Nervous Illness has fascinated and haunted its many readers, including Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Elias Canetti, and Gilles Deleuze, and has established itself as a key social and cultural history. As Rosemary Dinnage says in her introduction to this new edition, Schreber wrote "an account of what it is to be forsaken by everything familiar and real, and of the delusionary world that gets invented in their place." His book is perhaps the most revealing dispatch ever received from the far side of madness.

496 pages
NYRB Classics, 2000
Originally Published in 1903
8 x 5 x 1.3 inches
ISBN 9780940322202
Psychology, Memoir

$19.95 $19.95