This essay shows how Daniel Paul Schreber's Memoirs of My Nervous Illness mobilizes discourses of broad cultural currency to achieve a practical objective: the author's release from psychiatric custody. In contrast with the two major currents that dominate Schreber scholarship—psychoanalytic interpretations versus discussions that view the author in relation to fascism—the article argues that Schreber's idiosyncratic, but ultimately coherent, logical system reflects the values of the educated bourgeoisie. Memoirs of My Nervous Illness is more a tactical document than a psychopathological or cultural symptom. The class interests that Schreber professes would connect, decades later, to National Socialism; however, in his day, this development was an unwritten page of German history. What has come to be known as the “Schreber case” in fact affirms liberties that, though imperiled, were still intact in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Germany.

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