Thomas Dalzell investigates what was distinctive about the predisposition to psychosis which Freud posited in Daniel Paul Schreber, a presiding judge in Saxony's highest court.
He argues that Freud's Schreber text reversed the order of priority in late 19th century conceptions of the disposing causes of psychosis—the objective-biological and subjective-biographical—to privilege subjective disposition to psychosis, but without returning to the paradigms of early 19th century Romantic psychiatry and without obviating hereditary disposition.
The book takes the psychotic judge Daniel Paul Schreber as its reference point, but it is not a general treatment of Schreber, or of Freud's reading of the Schreber case. It focuses rather on what was new in Freud's thinking on the disposition to psychosis, what he learned from his psychiatrist contemporaries and what he did not, and whether or not psychoanalysts have fully received his aetiology. It situates Freud's Schreber text within the evolution of his thought on psychosis, and, as a new element, it highlights his isolating a developmental fixation at infantile narcissism as the decisive moment in his aetiological chain.
From the Preface:
“Thomas Dalzell studies with precision the position of the best of classical psychiatry, as well as that of Freud and finally of Lacan. At the same time he does homage to a remarkable opus which was the object of these labours, that of a madman who, in his delirium and suffering, had enough humanism to leave to the savants a unique document made for their enlightenment.”
- Dr Charles Melman, psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, director of teaching in Lacan’s École freudienne de Paris, and founder , L’Association Lacanienne Internationale
“This work is novel, original, and exciting. Dr Dalzell’s writing presents a balanced, eclectic, and logical exposition. It makes a unique contribution to the field of psychoanalytic research and is to be commended to all students intent on research in this field."
- Professor Kevin M. Malone, Professor of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Medical Science , University College Dublin
“In a remarkable work that joins scientific rigour to the art of the story teller, Thomas Dalzell tells the tale of the missed encounter between Freud's discovery of the crucial place of the speaking subject in the understanding of psychosis and the biological objectifications of the makers of modern psychiatry, which still dominate current theory and treatment.”
- Dr Cormac Gallagher, Lacanian psychoanalyst and founder of the School of Psychotherapy , St Vincent's University Hospital, Dublin