Three Notes on the Schreber Case : 14th March 1950 (New York) : William G. Niederland

by Julia Evans on March 14, 1950

Read before the New York Psychoanalytic Society on 14th March 1950

Published in Psychoanalytical Quarterly, v20, 1951, p579-591

Dr René Spitz and Dr Robert Fliess are thanked for their suggestions in the preparation of this paper.

Many of the publications for the case of Schreber are available at  /home page /scroll down to The Case of Schreber (Fall von Paranoia) & Schreber’s MEMOIRS OF MY NERVOUS ILLNESS with Lacan’s introduction to the French translation. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4


Texts related to the case of President Schreber

Case history of Schreber: 16th December 1910: Sigmund Freud  or

Jacques Lacan’s Commentary

Seminar III : No direct citation has been found.  See Seminar III: The Psychoses: 1955-1956: from 16th November 1955: Jacques Lacan or  

On a question preliminary to any possible treatment of psychosis : December 1955-January 1956 [1958] : two most important parts of Seminar III : Jacques Lacan  or  

p208 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : It is because others were now no more than ‘images of men flung together any old how’, to combine in this translation of ‘flüchtig hingemachte’ Männer, W. G. Niederland‘s remarks on the uses of’ hinmachen’ and Edouard Pichon’s brilliant  stroke in the French translation

p213 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : As for the question that I am proposing here concerning the alienating effect of the signifier, I would refer to that nadir of a July night in 1894 when Ahriman, the lower God, revealing himself to Schreber in the most impressive apparel of his power, called him by that simple word, which, according to the subject, is a common word of the fundamental language: ‘Luder!’

To translate the word we must do more than simply look it up in the Sachs-Villate dictionary, which is what the French translator was content to do. M. Niederland’s reference to the English lewd does not seem to me to be acceptable as an attempt to convey the sense of ‘wretch’ or ‘slut’, which is what it means when used as a term of abuse.

p219 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : Niederland provides a remarkable example of this when he draws attention to Flechsig’s delusional genealogy, constructed with the names of Schreber’s real ancestors. Gottfried, Gottlieb, Fürchtegott, and, above all, Daniel, which is handed down from father to son and of which he gives the meaning in Hebrew, to show in their convergence on the name of God (Gott) an important symbolic chain by which the function of the father can be manifested in the delusion.

But failing to distinguish in it the agency of the Name-of-the-Father, and it is obviously not enough, in order to recognize it, that it should be visible here to the naked eye, he misses the opportunity of grasping it in the chain in which the erotic aggressions experienced by the subject are formed, and thereby of contributing to putting in its place what should properly be termed delusional homosexuality.

p219-220 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : How, then, can he stop at what is concealed in the statement of the sentence quoted above from the first lines of Schreber’s second chapter: one of those statement so obviously made not to be heard that they must be noted. ‘What, to take it literally, is the meaning of the equal footing on which the author joins the names of Flechsig and Schreber to soul-murder in order to introduce us to the principle of abuse of which he [p220] is the victim? We must leave something for future commentators to Penetrate. 

As uncertain is the attempt made by Niederland in the same article to specify, this time on the basis of the subject, rather than the signifier (the terms, of course, are not his), the role of the paternal function in the triggering off of delusion. 

If, indeed, he claims to be able to designate the occasion of the psychosis in the mere assumption of paternity by the subject, which is the theme of his attempt, it is contradictory to regard as equivalent the frustration noted by Schreber of his hopes of paternity and his appointment as a High Court judge, the title of which (Senätspräsidnet) emphasizes the quality of Father (albeit a conscript father) that it accords him: this for the sole motivation of his second crisis, without prejudice to the first, which can be explained in a similar way by the failure of his candidature for the Reichstag. 

Whereas the reference to the third position, to which the signifier of paternity is called in all such cases, would be correct and would resolve this contradiction. 

But from the point of view of my thesis it is the primordial foreclosure (Verwerfung) that dominates everything with its problem, and the preceding considerations leave me here unprepared 


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Related texts

Texts related to the case of President Schreber

For further engagements with this case, see Case of President Schreber : 1910 in References to Sigmund Freud within LacanianWorks or  

Ordinary Psychosis: elaborations of James I/VI, Hamlet & Oedipus by Julia Evans on 28th  November 2015 or here

 Schreber’s case revisited with echoes noted in the family of Fred West by Julia Evans on 11th  January 2015 : Available here  

An Examination of ‘Learned Helplessness’ by Julia Evans on 11th  December 2014 or here 

What Cannot Be Said: Desire, Fantasy, Real : 11th September 2013 : Dominique Holvoet or here  

Psychosis, or Radical Belief in the Symptom : 17th June 2012 : Éric Laurent : given in Tel Aviv, Israel or here

The case, from unease to the lie : 2002 : Éric Laurent or here

Three Enigmas: Meaning, Signification, Jouissance : February 1993 : Éric Laurent or here    

Lacan and the Discourse of the Other : 1968 : Anthony Wilden or here   

References as used by Sigmund Freud & Jacques Lacan

 Some forms of emotional disturbance and their relationship to schizophrenia (‘as if’ case) : 1942 : Helene Deutsch : See  here

Psychoses of passion : 1921 : Gaétan Gatian de Clérambault  or here 

Misinterpretative delusional states : 1909 : Paul Sérieux & Joseph Capgras or here

The prognosis of dementia praecox: the group of schizophrenias : 1908 : Eugene Bleuler or here

Dementia Praecox : 1896 : Emil Kraepelin or here

Letter of 24th January 1895 and Draft H, Paranoia (The Emma Eckstein episode) : 24th January 1895 : Sigmund Freud or here  

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Availability of Daniel Paul Schreber’s Memoirs of my nervous illness & many of the commentaries  by Julia Evans on 2ndSeptember 2015 or at

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Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan   

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