Schreber's Second Illness

The second severe depression, described in his Memoirs, began as a prodrome in the summer and exploded in the fall of 1893 with sleeplessness, agitation, hypochondriacal and nihilistic delusions, and suicidal attempts. He was admitted as a voluntary patient by Flechsig to his University Hospital, where, months later, the depression became compounded by a persecutory hallucinations and delusions of sexual abuse and hostile divine influence Schreber called soul murder, as well as ideas about a fantastic cosmology and religion. Schreber was transferred by Flechsig to the Sonnenstein Asylum and there declared mentally incompetent and involuntary.

The agitated depression abated by 1897 but his wishes to leave were hindered by Superintendent Weber's diagnosis of chronic incurable paranoia and the incompetency status, and his wife's reluctance to take him home. Subsequently, while mentally clear and socially compensated, Schreber continued to express rage and fantasies of transformation into a woman to redeem the world, but was able to write his Memoirs conduct his own legal defense, and regain his freedom in 1902. The text follows.