Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 31 (2):117-154 (2000)
Freud's 1911 case study based on Schreber's Memoirs of My Nervous Illness provides the investigator with the opportunity to reexamine Freud's interpretation through a return to the original data Freud used. This study reveals both the insights and limitations of Freud's theory of paranoia. An alternative interpretation of the case is overed from an existential-phenomenological perspective which aims both to expand upon and transform Freud's study without negating its value. Freud draws on the mythologies of the sun to argue for his hypothesis that the "father-complex" lies behind Schreber's God. By following some of the many other mythological themes in Schreber's memoirs, Freud's interpretation is opened to a larger, socially and historically situated context. An examination of cross-cultural and historical studies of mystical experience shows how Schreber's psychosis is simultaneously a form of madness and spiritual breakthrough. Schreber's is viewed as a narcissistic experience of the infant-child in which the imaginal has been exiled from rational, modern adulthood and is inaccessible to Cartesian language. Instead of recognizing the soul-full world of "miracles," Schreber envisions the absorption of the entire world into himself and he thus becomes an inflated caricature of the "heroic ego" at its extreme
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