Alexander van der Haven, Beyond the Modern Self: Madness and Divine Communion in Fin-de-siècle Germany in:

Lutz Greisiger, Sebastian Schüler, Alexander van der Haven (Ed.)

Religion und Wahnsinn um 1900: Zwischen Pathologisierung und Selbstermächtigung / Religion and Madness Around 1900: Between Pathology and Self-Empowerment, page 69 - 100

1. Edition 2017, ISBN print: 978-3-95650-279-8, ISBN online: 978-3-95650-361-0,

Series: Diskurs Religion, vol. 14

Bibliographic information
Beyond the Modern Self: Madness and Divine Communion in Fin-de-siècle Germany1 Alexander van der Haven Anthropologists, sociologists, historians, and philosophers have argued for years that the notion of the self that we take to be a “primordial category,” is in fact (as Clifford Geertz put it), “a rather peculiar idea within the context of the world’s cultures.”2 The central characteristic of this Western construct of the self is its autonomy, its independence of and separation from its surroundings. As Geertz wrote, the modern Western self is “a bounded, unique, more or less integrated motivational and cognitive universe, a dynamic center of awareness, emotion, judgment and action, organized into a distinctive whole and set contrastively against other such wholes.”3 Despite its rise to paradigmatic status, the notion of the autonomous self has not gone unchallenged, either in the early modern world or in the postmodern present.4 This essay will explore the non-autonomous underbelly of modernity through a detailed examination of one such challenge. Daniel Paul Schreber (1842–1911), an appeals court judge turned psychiatric patient, unwittingly entered into a profound confrontation with the notion of the autonomous self when he began to experience penetration by divine forces. This experience was also one of madness, and of being treated as mentally ill. Together with Schreber’s eventual embrace of the religious need for communion with God, it led him to the conclusion that the self neither is nor should be autonomous, and, concomitantly, that what appeared as madness was the effect of superhuman forces on what Charles Taylor called “the porous self.” To describe Schreber’s journey toward embracing his “porous self,” I will first introduce Schreber’s discussion of what he called “soul murder,” a term which dramatically expresses his experience of the violation of his autonomy. I will briefly comment on how it has been understood by previous readers, and will give my own interpretation. Next I will place the notion of the autonomous self 1 This research was supported by the I-CORE Program of the Planning and Budgeting Committee and The Israel Science Foundation (grant No. 1754/12). 2 “Primordial category” is from Marcel Mauss (1979): A Category of the Human Mind: The Notion of Person, the Notion of ‘Self,’ in: Sociology and Psychology: Essays. London/ Boston, p. 88; Clifford Geertz (1974): ‘From the Native’s Point of View:’ On the Nature of Anthropological Understanding, in: Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 28/1, p. 31. 3 Geertz: From the Native’s Point of View, p. 31. 4 A work that not only offers an example of early modern popular resistance against this notion but also represents a modern theoretical approach doing the same is: Marshall, Cynthia (2002): The Shattering of the Self: Violence, Subjectivity, and Early Modern Texts. Baltimore. in historical context – a historical context that Schreber himself also offered. For this I will use as theoretical framework a critical revision of Charles Taylor’s notions of the premodern “porous self” and the modern “buffered self,” arguing for an understanding of autonomy as a modern ideal and locus of anxiety rather than as an accomplished fact. I will explore how modern anxieties about not being autonomous (or “buffered”) manifest themselves in Schreber’s book. Finally, I will analyze Schreber’s conversion as his embrace of a “porous self.” ‘Soul murder’ In his memoir Denkwürdigkeiten eines Nervenkranken (lit., Memoirs of a nervously ill person, 1903), Daniel Paul Schreber published an open letter addressed to his first psychiatrist, Professor Paul Emil Flechsig.5 In the letter, Schreber introduced the term “soul murder” (Seelenmord). According to Schreber, this was an old term that had fallen into disuse. It was now used, disapprovingly and for lack of a better term, by superhuman voices (which often spoke in “hyperboles”) to describe a situation “in which someone, by way of influencing another person’s nervous system, imprisons, to a certain degree, that person’s willpower – as happens in hypnosis.”6 Judge Schreber did not raise the subject of “soul murder” with the man who had admitted him to Leipzig University’s nerve clinic a decade before merely to share a curiosity. “Soul murder” defined the very relationship between the two of them. (As will become clear later, it also characterized what Schreber believed to be a crisis in the relationship between God and humanity). We learn this not only from the memoirs, but also from a complaint made by the gathered townspeople of Pirna, who lived in the valley below the mental institution of Sonnenstein (from where, four decades later, not the noise, but the ashes of the mentally 5 Schreber, Daniel Paul (1903): Denkwürdigkeiten eines Nervenkranken: Nebst Nachträgen und einem Anhang über die Frage: “Unter welchen Voraussetzungen darf eine für geisteskrank erachtete Person gegen ihren erklärten Willen in einer Heilanstalt festgehalten werden?” Leipzig. The work has a number of times been republished and translated. Although also an English translation from 1955 exists (Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. London), the translations in this article are mine. For the most detailed biography of Schreber in English see Lothane, Zvi (1992): In Defense of Schreber: Soul Murder and Psychiatry. Hillsdale, NJ. For a short introduction in German to Schreber as a religious thinker, see Van der Haven, Alexander (2010): Eine Erlöserin mit Schnurrbart: Daniel Paul Schrebers religiöse Offenbarungen, in: Edelheiser, Iris (ed.): Von Aposteln bis Zionisten: Religiöse Kultur im Leipzig des Kaiserreichs. Marburg, pp. 177–184. Parts of this article are adopted from my doctoral thesis: Van der Haven (2009): The Other Zarathustra: Madness, Schreber and the Making of Religion in 19th Century Germany. Dissertation, University of Chicago Divinity School. 6 “Neigung zu hyperbolischer Ausdrucksweise” “daß eine die Willenskraft eines andern Menschen bis zu einem gewissen Grade gefangen nehmende Einwirkung auf dessen Nervensystem – wie sie beim Hypnotisiren stattfindet.” Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, p. ix. ALEXANDER VAN DER HAVEN70 ill would descend).7 According to the complaint, along with shouted abuse, Schreber bellowed (usually in the middle of the night) that Flechsig was a “soul murderer.”8 In the open letter, Schreber presented this charge in a more diplomatic manner. Here he suggested that although the psychiatrist had instigated his “soul murder,” he had done so with the best of intentions, namely, with the aim of curing him. Therefore, Schreber wrote, Flechsig could admit to it without negative consequences. The judge wanted this very badly. “I cannot sufficiently emphasize of what inestimable importance it would be if you could somehow confirm my suspicions, in particular from memories that you yourself have.”9 Schreber was convinced that Flechsig was involved in the initiation of what his current physician had “characterized as ‘mere hallucinations’ but which I believe is the interaction with supersensory forces.” This contact with supersensory forces, Schreber suggested to Flechsig, began, when you, and I would like to assume with the sole aim of curing me, hypnotized, suggested, or in some other form interacted with my nerves despite spatial separation. During this communication you might also have observed that also from the other side voices suggesting a supersensory origin were speaking to me. As a result of this surprising observation you might, out of scientific interest, have continued the interaction with me until the whole thing had become, so to say, uncanny and you were forced to discontinue the interaction.10 For this interaction, Schreber used the word Verkehr, which means communication, but also communion and, in sexual terms, intercourse.11 The term was well chosen. The interaction set in motion by Flechsig’s hypnosis led to years of in- 7 Sonnenstein served as a center for the extermination of the mentally ill and intellectually disabled in 1940/41. 8 Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, p. 382; see also pp. 399 and 465–466. Schreber had printed in his memoirs the court documents of his appeal, among them three expert testimonies by his psychiatrist in Sonnenstein, Guido Weber. 9 “Ich brauche kaum hervorzuheben, von wie unberechenbarer Wichtigkeit es wäre, wenn meine vorstehend angedeuteten Vermuthungen in irgendwelcher Weise sich bestätigen, insbesondere in Erinnerungen, die Sie selbst in Ihrem Gedächtnisse bewahren.” Ibid., p. xi. 10 “was von meinen Aerzten immer als bloße ‘Halluzinationen’ aufgefaßt worden ist, für mich aber einen Verkehr mit übersinnlichen Kräften bedeutet” “daß Sie – wie ich gern annehmen will, zunächst nur zu Heilzwecken – einen hypnotisirenden, suggerirenden oder wie immer sonst zu bezeichnenden Verkehr und zwar auch bei räumlicher Trennung mit meinen Nerven unterhalten haben. Bei diesem Verkehr könnten Sie auf einmal die Wahrnehmung gemacht haben, daß auch von anderer Seite in Stimmen, die auf einen übersinnlichen Ursprung hindeuten, auf mich eingesprochen werde. Sie könnten in Folge dieser überraschenden Wahrnehmung den Verkehr mit mir noch eine Zeit lang aus wissenschaftlichem Interesse fortgesetzt haben, bis Ihnen selbst die Sache sozusagen unheimlich geworden wäre und Sie sich daher veranlaßt gesehen hätten, den Verkehr abzubrechen.” Ibid., p. ix. 11 In this essay I focus mostly on divine human interaction in the sense of communion. See for Schreber’s notion of communication and its epistemological implications Van der Haven, Alexander (2017): God as Hypothesis: Daniel Paul Schreber and the Study of Religion, in: Steffen Führding (ed.): Method and Theory in the Study of Religion: Working BEYOND THE MODERN SELF 71 cessant communication from voices, against his own volition. It also led to the invasion of Schreber’s body by what he called divine rays or nerves. These originated from God and were also part of God. Constructed of the same very fine material from which both the human soul and God were built, the rays entered Schreber’s body in order to rob him of his sanity, control his bodily actions, and transform his body into that of a woman for the purpose of sexual abuse. In this, they violated Schreber’s basic rights, including (he wrote), the “right not to think.”12 In short, “soul murder” aimed to turn Schreber into a mental prisoner and a sexual slave. The process set in motion by Flechsig had a disastrous effect, the poor judge believed, and not on Schreber alone. The rays or nerves of which God consists were irresistibly drawn to Schreber’s nervous system. As a result they not only feminized Schreber’s body, but also disappeared in it. This Verkehr, Schreber wrote, led to the destruction of the “world order,” the proper relationship between humanity and God (within which taking control over another person’s mind – “soul murder” – was prohibited). The destruction of the world order was not only calamitous for Schreber: God himself was in danger of being annihilated in the body of the judge. As a result, God distanced himself from his creation, and so ceased to truly understand what was happening in the human realm. In addition, out of self-defense, God tried to destroy all of civilization, as Schreber witnessed in terrifying visions. Schreber later abandoned the literal interpretation of these apocalyptic visions for the idea that they symbolized the suspension of human salvation. And there where it all began – at the root of God’s rape-suicide mission of a feminizing judge, the destruction of the world order, and the suspension of the salvation of all human beings – was Flechsig’s crime, his improper control of Schreber’s mind or nervous system. In the open letter, after having released the psychiatrist from direct responsibility for his suffering, Schreber went on to suggest that once Flechsig had ceased to hypnotize him, a part of the psychiatrist’s soul, “probably not [a] conscious [part] of it,” had departed Flechsig’s body “in a way that can only be explained as supersensory, and had as a ‘tested soul’ ascended to the heavens, where it had acquired some sort of a supersensory power.”13 Schreber’s notion of “soul murder” and identification of his psychiatrist with this supernatural crime has captured the imagination of his readers, including Papers from Hannover. Supplements to Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 8. Leiden, pp. 176–198. 12 Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, p. 47. 13 “daß ein Theil Ihrer eigenen Nerven – Ihnen selbst wahrscheinlich unbewußt – auf einem nur übersinnlich zu erklärenden Wege Ihrem Körper entführt und als ‚geprüfte Seele’ zum Himmel aufgestiegen, zu irgendwelcher übersinnlichen Macht gelangt wäre.” Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, p. ix. ALEXANDER VAN DER HAVEN72 such eminences as Freud, Jung, Lacan, Canetti, and Guattari and Deleuze.14 Freud, for instance, suggested that “soul murder” represented the judge’s self-deception. He noted that there were three literary examples of “soul murder” in Schreber’s memoirs: Byron’s Manfred, Goethe’s Faust, and Weber’s Freischütz. Yet in Manfred, detective Freud pointed out, there was “scarcely anything comparable to the bartering of Faust’s soul, and I have searched in vain for the expression ‘soul murder.’ But the essence and secret of the whole work lies in an incestuous relation between a brother and a sister. And here our thread breaks off short.”15 Of course, this is cunning rhetoric on Freud’s behalf. The moment when the patient (that is to say, the memoir – Freud never met Schreber) mentions Lord Byron, one of most famous perverts of the nineteenth century, our thread does not break off short at all. It is exactly here that Freud takes up the thread, moving away from soul business into the more carnal realm. The real desire underlying the urge to commit “soul murder” was not murder, according to Freud: it was love. Moreover, the true object of the soul murder Schreber described was not Schreber, but his psychiatrist (and his father and his brother-men). The judge, who could not admit to his homosexuality, left in code for his readers a trail to his real desire. Freud’s reading of “soul murder” as a translation of desire – the desire to be penetrated – rather than as an expression of victimhood, differs from many other interpretations. Yet it is similar to what I will argue here, provided we translate penis (back) into God.16 Schreber believed that his basic human right to an autonomous self free from foreign invasions was being violated (his soul being the object of an attempted murder). However, at the same time he deeply desired this penetration, as I will show. On his being penetrated depended both his personal redemption and the redemption of all humanity, through the restoration 14 Freud, Sigmund (1958): Psycho-Analytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia (Dementia Paranoides) (1911), in: The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, v. 12. London, pp. 3–84; Jung, C.G. (1967): Symbols of Transformation: An Analysis of the Prelude to a Case of Schizophrenia. Princeton, pp. 29, 44, 95, 300–301; Jung, C.G. (2015): Psychology of Dementia Praecox. Princeton/ London, pp. 73, 75–76, 85, 95, 150; Lacan, Jacques (1993): The Psychoses. New York; Canetti, Elias (1978): Crowds and Power. New York; Deleuze, Gilles – Guattari, Félix (1983): Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis. Also Otto Gross wrote about Schreber and was one of the first to do so: Gross, Otto (1904): Über Bewusstseinzerfall, in: Monatschrift für Psychiatrie und Neurologie 15, pp. 46–51. 15 Freud: Psycho-Analytic Notes, p. 44. 16 Canetti’s reading of Schreber’s memoirs follows a similar strategy by arguing that the upsettingly violent visions Schreber saw were actually expressions of his desire for this violence to happen, for “to be the last man alive is the deepest urge of power.” Canetti: Crowds and Power, p. 448. See for a critical analysis of Canetti’s reading of Schreber, in which I argue for the close affinity between Canetti and Schreber’s thought: Van der Haven, Alexander (2015): The War and Transcendental Order: Critique of Violence in Benjamin, Canetti and Daniel Paul Schreber, in: Tel Aviver Jahrbuch für deutsche Geschichte 43, pp. 115–144. BEYOND THE MODERN SELF 73 of communion with God. A profound ambivalence underlies Schreber’s notion of “soul murder.” Freud read this ambivalence in sexual terms. In contrast, I see it as a conflict between two profound needs of the modern self. The first derives from the modern ideal of the healthy self as autonomous, and therefore cordoned off from the external (and the superhuman) world. The other, I suggest, is the timeless need for communion with superhuman powers, which requires a reduction in this autonomy. “Soul murder” therefore represents the challenge Schreber faced and could not entirely solve, of reconciling communion with God with the desire not to be dismissed as plain crazy. On the one hand, “soul murder” expresses the mental suffering of a victim who experienced the penetration and violation of his self, a self whose mental wholeness, or sanity, was predicated on not being penetrated. On the other hand, to commune with God through revelation and theurgy en corps, Schreber needed to be invaded by supersensory powers, and he yearned for this, as I will show. The dilemma was not Schreber’s alone. Spiritualist mediums, with whom Schreber compared himself, often suffered from being declared mentally ill and were frequently institutionalized in mental asylums.17 Premodern porous selves, modern buffered selves As the Belgian psychoanalyst Daniel Devreese has observed, Schreber’s memoirs and the revelations he described breathe a profound historical consciousness.18 Schreber saw the “soul murder” attempted on him before the turn of the twentieth century as embedded in a far longer history. According to his memoir, “soul murder” is an ancient phenomenon. “[T]he idea, widespread in the folklore and poetry of all people, is that it is somehow possible to take possession of another person’s soul in order to prolong one’s life at another soul’s expense, or to secure some other advantages which outlast death.”19 The particular “soul murder” involving Schreber (which Schreber believed had also unhinged the relationship between God and humanity), had more specific 17 See for instance for German spiritualists Treitel, Corinna (2004): A Science for the Soul: Occultism and the Genesis of the German modern. Baltimore. For England, see Owen, Alex (1990): The Darkened Room: Women, Power and Spiritualism in Late Victorian England. Philadelphia. 18 Devreese, Daniel (2003): L’acte manqué paranoïaque: Le délire de Schreber, entre les quatre discours universitaires et dans l’histoire allemande de Luther à Bismarck. Paris. 19 “die Vorstellung, daß es möglich sei, sich in irgendwelcher Weise der Seele eines Anderen zu bemächtigen, um sich auf Kosten der betreffenden Seele entweder ein längeres Leben oder irgendwelche andere, über den Tod hinausreichenden Vortheile zu verschaffen, in Sage und Dichtung bei allen Völkern verbreitet.” Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, p. 22. It was probably also related, Schreber wrote, to a practice in the Middle Ages that preserved the souls of departed heretics “for centuries under glass in medieval cloisters.” (“die in mittelalterlichen Klöstern Jahrhunderte lang unter Glasglocken aufbewahrt worden sein sollen”). Ibid., p. 96. ALEXANDER VAN DER HAVEN74 historical origins. It was the latest in a dynastic vendetta of “soul murders” committed by the Schreber and Flechsig families since the late eighteenth century. The vendetta originated with one of Flechsig’s ancestors, Daniel Fürchtegott (“God-fearing”) Flechsig, who lived during the reign of King Frederick the Great.20 In this period, Schreber speculated, Daniel Fürchtegott practiced psychiatry (Nervenheilkunde). But because “public institutions for the mentally ill did not yet exist,” the voices that spoke to Schreber called him a “Landgeistlicher,” a rustic cleric. According to Schreber, this eighteenth-century ancestor of Flechsig the psychiatrist was the first to “violate the order of the world through the abuse of divine rays (Nervenanhang).”21 Why did Schreber place the origins of something going awfully wrong in the late eighteenth century, and why did he connect it with the care or knowledge of the soul? Although Schreber’s historical consciousness of the development of psychiatry (and in particular of the emergence of big public mental institutions) is telling, I would suggest a different reason for locating the genesis of the “soul murder” problem in the late eighteenth century. That reason has to do with the well-hidden but important presence in the memoirs of another of Frederick II’s subjects, the philosopher whose vision hovered over his nineteenth-century successors: Immanuel Kant (1724–1804). It was from Kant’s critical work on the famous Swedish visionary Emanuel Swedenborg that Schreber borrowed the notion “seer of spirits” (Geisterseher). Schreber was convinced that his own rich supernatural experiences, superior even to those of Swedenborg, made him the greatest spirit seer of all times.22 Unlike Kant, Schreber did not use the word in a mocking sense, but followed the usage of one of his favorite authors, Carl du Prel, who regarded Kant as a mystic.23 Schreber could not use the term derisively, because, like Swedenborg, his experiences had forced him (he wrote) to embrace the possibility that some human beings are truly capable of looking into the superhuman realm.24 In contrast, Kant wrote his book about Swedenborg, Dreams of a Spirit Seer (1766), at a pivotal moment in his philosophical career: the moment his philosophy turned critical of traditional metaphysical assumptions.25 As Gregory Johnson has pointed out, be- 20 Ibid., p. xii, 22, 24, 25. 21 “öffentliche Heilanstalten für Geisteskranke noch nicht existirten” “der zuerst durch Missbrauch eines göttlichen Nervenanhangs gegen die Weltordnung gefehlt hat.” Ibid., p. 25. 22 Kant’s name is mentioned once in the memoirs, in a reference to the Kant-Laplace nebular hypothesis. Although it seems Schreber derived the term from Kant (Ibid., p. 90 refers to a seer who had predicted the 1755 Lisbon earthquake: Swedenborg), the terminology of seeing of spirits is also used by other contemporary sources: Van der Haven: The Other Zarathustra, 74–75. 23 Kant, Immuel – Du Prel, Carl (1889): Immanuel Kants Vorlesungen über Psychologie mit einer Einleitung, Kants mystische Weltanschauung. Leipzig. 24 Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, p. 29. 25 Kant, Immanuel (1776): Träume eines Geistersehers, erläutert durch Träume der Metaphysik. Stuttgart. BEYOND THE MODERN SELF 75 fore writing this book, Kant had taken the claims of Swedenborg quite seriously. In the Dreams, however, although he still shows some ambivalence toward the seer, he uses the seer’s visionary claims to argue that such experiences are impossible.26 Kant’s Dreams of a Spirit Seer, which coincided with the beginning of a soulmurderous blood feud between the Schrebers and the Flechsigs, was the first step in Kant’s systematic construction of a philosophical view of the self as autonomous, itself the culmination of a philosophical development that had been growing since the late Middle Ages. The Kantian self epitomizes what the philosopher Charles Taylor has identified as the modern self. In A Secular Age, Taylor distinguishes between the “buffered self,” namely, the modern notion of the self as autonomous, and the premodern notion of the self, the “porous self,” as Taylor calls it. The external boundaries of the “porous self” are not closed; Taylor speaks of the “perplexing absence of certain boundaries which seem to us essential.”27 Kant’s critical philosophy was the culmination of a process set in motion by the philosophy of René Descartes (1596–1650). This was a process of separation, in which the mental world of the self and the reality outside of it became radically sundered, and the ultimate source of knowledge shifted from the external world to the internal reality of the self.28 The French philosopher claimed that certainty could be found only in our minds. He regarded all reality outside of the self as driven by mechanical laws.29 Likewise, Kant described the elements of the world external to the self as noumena – what we might call “external things” – which we cannot truly know. Even though we have sense impressions, the phenomena – that is, the “internal things” we have in our minds that project outside objects – are not direct representations of the noumena. As a consequence of Descartes’s and Kant’s reduction of reality to what is in our minds – an epistemological shift – the human sovereign self also became the center of ethics. Descartes, especially, emphasized the self-sufficiency and mastery of the human mind over a mechanistic universe, and the necessity of reaching and maintaining this autonomous mastery. This aspect of Descartes’s philosophy, Taylor suggests, lies at the basis of the “modern theme of the dignity of the human person,” with its emphasis on the protection of the individuality, or 26 On Kant’s ambivalence, see Gregory Johnson’s introduction to Kant’s work on Swedenborg: Kant, Immanuel (2002): Kant on Swedenborg: Dreams of a Spirit-Seer and Other Writings. West Chester, PA. 27 Taylor, Charles (2007): A Secular Age. Cambridge, MA, e.g. pp. 35–38. 28 On Descartes and the buffered self, see Taylor: Secular Age, pp. 134–135. Taylor writes in greater detail on Descartes in Taylor, Charles (1989): Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity. Cambridge, MA, pp. 143–158. 29 Central are Descartes’ Meditations, in particular his second and sixth meditations: Descartes, René (1986): Meditations on First Philosophy: With Selections from the Objections and Replies. Cambridge/New York, pp. 16–23, 50–62. ALEXANDER VAN DER HAVEN76 autonomy, of the self.30 Similarly, the so-called “categorical imperative,” Kant’s famous moral maxim from the Metaphysic of Morals (1785), dictates that every individual human being should be treated as an end in and of itself. Individual autonomy has become philosophy’s ethical norm and goal. This modern notion of the self is radically different from its premodern predecessor. To illustrate this difference Taylor uses the example of the premodern association of melancholy with black bile. (Notably, Schreber’s revelations also identify illnesses, in particular epidemics such as the plague, with mental states).31 In the premodern world, Taylor writes, “meanings are not only in minds, but can reside in things, or in various kinds of extra-human but intra-cosmic subjects.”32 Black bile was not regarded as causing melancholy but as being melancholy itself. This distinction is important. Considering bile as a cause only is predicated on a clear separation between the (melancholic) self and its external causes, between a mental state and its physical causes.33 Taylor’s example of bile shows that the difference between the porous and buffered self is not merely an epistemological one. If we are to believe Taylor, premoderns would not recognize this categorical divide anyway. Rather, there is no absolute distinction between meaning and things, between the transcendent and the immanent: we, our selves, are part of and congruous with our environment.34 These notions of the porous and buffered self are relevant to how we historically experience our interactions with superhuman (from a buffered perspective we could call them supernatural) powers, in particular in terms of vulnerability. Taylor regarded the porous self as more vulnerable than the buffered self, because the premodern enchanted world was an “awe-inspiring and frightening field of forces” against which we needed a benevolent protector, namely, an omnipotent God. (Taylor also suggests that some probably rooted for Satan.) The rise of the buffered self removed this need for protection: “In general, going against God is not an option in the enchanted world. That is one way the change to the buffered self has impinged. It removes a tremendous obstacle to unbelief.”35 I would like to use Taylor’s notion of the difference between premodern and modern selves somewhat differently from the way Taylor himself uses it, a way that I think better explains a problem that Schreber shared with his contempo- 30 Taylor: Sources of the Self, p. 152. 31 E.g. Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, pp. 91, 163. 32 Taylor: Secular Age, p. 33. 33 Ibid., p. 37. 34 Ibid., p. 13. Taylor’s notion of the premodern porous self is reminiscent of the famous theory of the French anthropologist Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, who argued that in contrast to the modern mind, the ‘primitive’ mind does not distinguish between supernatural and physical reality. Lévy-Bruhl, Lucien (1910): Les fonctions mentales dans les sociétés inférieures. Paris. His theory has been much criticized as representing an evolutionist view on ‘primitives’ as unable to make rational distinctions as we do. 35 Taylor: Secular Age, p. 41. BEYOND THE MODERN SELF 77 raries (and with us today). Taylor’s work is far from a triumphant testimony to the birth of modernity. It actually seems somewhat nostalgic for our porous past. Hence I might be making too much of his casually-offered thought. Nevertheless, Taylor’s argument that the premodern porous self was vulnerable, and dependent on the protection of the biggest bully, smacks of a view that has long plagued religious studies. This is the notion that “primitive man” lived in irrational fear of terrible supernatural forces, whereas we moderns have gloriously conquered those fears. I suggest we disconnect the porousness of the porous self from anxiety about being porous. We can do so by looking at the buffered self as a modern ideal rather than (as I understand Taylor to regard it) as a situation we have comfortably arrived at. Thus, against Taylor’s suggestion that our buffered selves do not need God’s protection anymore, I argue that the buffered self is a state we want to be in, and feel we ought to be in, but which we do not necessarily succeed at entering into. In other words, our selves have not become buffered, but we want them to be buffered. The modern need to have a buffered self is the modern anxiety about being porous. Taking Taylor in this different direction helps to explain observations made by scholars of the early modern era (and as we shall see, similar ideas in Schreber’s environment), that seem to directly contradict Taylor’s classification of the historical notions of the self. Freya Sierhuis, for instance, writing about the early modern controversy over free will, argues that “one of the fundamental tenets of early modern physiology [is] that the body is not a closed, sealed-off entity, but rather an open, porous vessel that communicates with its surrounding environment, and that it is, therefore, fundamentally instable as a locus of identity.”36 Sierhuis here argues that the early modern self is not buffered. On the contrary, she uses precisely Taylor’s terminology for the premodern self by arguing that it is “porous.” The two opposing views cannot be explained by suggesting that Sierhuis’s description of early modernity actually describes a surviving remnant of premodernity. As I will show, her description of the body as a porous vessel fits the common understanding in Schreber’s time too. Rather, we can harmonize Sierhuis’s observations with Taylor’s classification by way of what I have just argued, namely, that in the early modern period, the porousness of the self becomes a problem. While, to use Sierhuis’s terminology, a healthy self is one that is stable as a locus of identity, the “pores” through which the self nevertheless communicates with what is outside of it make this impossible. We moderns are, literally, screwed. This was precisely the problem from which Schreber suffered, and which his illness brought to a new height, but for which he also found a remedy. The need to buffer one’s self was in great tension with the “porous self” open to external influences, including supersensory ones. In Schreber’s case, the fact that he re- 36 Sierhuis, Freya (2015): The Literature of the Arminian Controversy: Religion, Politics and the Stage in the Dutch Republic. New York, p. 94. ALEXANDER VAN DER HAVEN78 garded this influence as a Verkehr, a communion with God, kept him from ending it. In other words, in order to be in contact with God, Schreber needed to “unbuffer” his self, or have his buffer destroyed by superhuman forces. This equated to becoming insane: religion and madness are, I will suggest later, interdependent in the modern age. However Schreber made another important step, in what amounts to a religious conversion. He came to embrace the porousness of his self, and thus overcame (at least in part) this modern anxiety. This problem and its solution, in the context of historical perceptions of the self ’s borders, and with the focus on Schreber, is the subject of this essay. Before entering into a detailed discussion of the two selves at war in judge Schreber’s tormented mind, I want to return for a moment to Schreber’s open letter to Flechsig, with its accusation of “soul murder.” Already in the letter we see this contradiction in Schreber’s accusation, and partial exoneration, of his psychiatrist. On the one hand, the open letter is a j’accuse: Flechsig initiated the supersensory experiences that Schreber’s doctor Guido Weber (director of the mental institution of Sonnenstein, near Dresden) called “mere hallucinations.” Weber was the same doctor who, during Schreber’s appeal, consistently advised the court not to rescind his declaration of incompetence; he simply considered the judge too insane to return to normal life. Flechsig was thus responsible for a decade of incarceration which, Schreber argued, he had been fit to leave for many years, but could not because he had been legally declared mentally incompetent. Moreover, Flechsig’s actions created terrible suffering: divine contact, as the judge will show us, is in part tremendous suffering. At the same time, Schreber’s ultimate ambition was not simply to place the responsibility for his suffering on the learned psychiatrist’s shoulders. The open letter was also an appeal to explore the possibility that, while psychiatric techniques such as hypnosis were illegitimate means of controlling the minds of others, they were also gateways to the superhuman realm. It was not simply a demand for an admission of guilt. It was also an invitation to investigate, together with an eminent and learned former patient, the possibility that penetrating another person’s self leads not only to madness and mental suffering, but also to contact with superhuman forces. This is one of many instances that reveal the profound inner contradictions in the text, which make it worthy of a Freudian hermeneutics of suspicion. Both the buffered ideal and the necessary porousness can be found in Schreber’s memoirs and in the contemporary ideas they reflect. In the following two sections, I will explore this anxious porousness with a particular emphasis on how Schreber and a number of his contemporaries understood hypnosis. Then, in the last two sections, I will address Schreber’s redemption, the conversion he underwent, in which he accepted the necessity of a porous self for communion with God. BEYOND THE MODERN SELF 79 Violating Schreber’s autonomy Many of Schreber’s readers have been more respectful than Freud of the judge’s claim to victimhood. In different ways, they have interpreted Schreber’s illness and fate in terms of a violation of his self. This, I will argue, faithfully represents the first part of the story, namely, how Schreber himself understood his suffering in terms of an invaded self that was supposed to be buffered. Since antiquity madness has been identified with the loss of the soul’s reins of its own domain – think of Plato’s image of reason as charioteer. Yet divine possession and revelation have often been predicated on such a loss. Madness could also be a sign of a divine curse, and, moreover, true prophets, whether biblical or Greek, often behaved, or were misunderstood, as mad.37 Madness thus traditionally served a dual role. It could be used to dismiss a person’s claims, but it could also be treated as evidence for these claims’ divine origins. In contrast, Schreber’s pre-conversion mindset exudes an anxiety about foreign divine invasion that is purely negative. This has led some of Schreber’s readers to regard his belief that he was being invaded as a pathological regression to more primitive forms of selfhood (a reading which echoes Schreber’s own contrast between mental illness and civilization).38 For instance Julian Jaynes, in his famous Origin of Consciousness (1976), characterized Schreber’s experience of being constantly exposed to voices talking to him in an invasive manner as a vestige of what he dubbed the “bicameral mind.” This, Jaynes believed, was the natural state of the human mind in the ancient world prior to the second millennium BCE (the biblical prophets can be seen as remnants of this).39 Whereas hearing voices was common in ancient times, in Schreber’s modern case the cessation of these voices was actually a sign of his cure. “[T]he fact that, as he slowly recuperated, the tempo of speech of his gods slowed down and then degenerated into an indistinct hissing is reminiscent of how idols sounded to the Incas after the conquest.”40 A more down-to-earth explanation of Schreber’s attitude has been that his experience of the invasion of the self characterizes the experience of mental illness as such. Indeed, in his standard work Allgemeine Psychopathologie (General Psychopathology, 1920 [1913]), Karl Jaspers several times used Schreber’s accounts of his experiences as descriptions of the phenomenology of the “abnormal life of the soul.” To illustrate the phenomena of the “subjective experience of the blocking of the will (Willenshemmung),” for example, Jaspers used Schreber’s own des- 37 E.g. 1 Sam 10:6, Hos 9:7, Jer 29:26, Acts 26:24–25. 38 Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, p. iv, where he expressed his desire to live again among ‘civilized’ (gesittete) people. See for instance (with a focus on Freud) Brickman, Celia (2003): Aboriginal Populations of the Mind: Race and Primitivity in Psychoanalysis. New York. 39 Jaynes, Julian (1976): The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Boston, pp. 414–418. 40 Ibid., 416. ALEXANDER VAN DER HAVEN80 cription of actions that he performed without volition.41 Freud and Lacan – neither of them much inclined to argue for our capacity to master our psychic life – also characterized Schreber’s paranoia (Freud) or psychosis (Lacan) as the breakdown of the psychic system, the mental economy that regulates the relationships among the forces of the unconscious and conscious life.42 Beginning in 1951, the American psychiatrist William Niederland published a number of articles claiming that the root of Schreber’s mental illness was in his victimization by his father. Schreber senior, Moritz, was a famous pedagogue who subjected his children to strict regimes to master their own bodies, for instance by rectifying their postures with machines he had constructed for that purpose.43 As Niederland wrote, “Dr. Schreber […] by his own admission drove some of his children, presumably his sons more than his daughters, into a state of complete submission and passive surrender. He made of them the earliest targets and examples of his aggressive efforts toward the development of a better and healthier race of men.”44 In 1974 Morton Schatzman took Niederland’s accusation that Moritz Schreber was responsible for his son’s madness even further. In Soul Murder: Persecution in the Family, Schatzman argued that Moritz Schreber had also sexually abused his son.45 The analyses of Niederland and Schatzman inspired Leonard Shenghold to turn “soul murder” into a psychological term describing the effects of child abuse and deprivation.46 Zvi Lothane has correctly pointed out how speculative it is to make Schreber senior the culprit for his son’s suffering. Instead, in his In defense of Schreber: soul murder and psychiatry (1992), Lothane held the practices of Schreber’s psychiatrists responsible for his suffering, particularly his prolonged incarceration against his will.47 Thus, Lothane interpreted Schreber’s suffering as Schreber himself did in his appeal to have his incompetency declaration rescinded: that is, in a patients’ 41 Jaspers, Karl (1920): Allgemeine Psychopathologie: für Studierende, Ärzte, und Psychologen. Berlin, p. 84. 42 Lacan: Psychoses, pp. 8–10. Freud: Psycho-Analytic Notes, pp. 77–78. See also Gross’ argument that Schreber’s experiences are based on material that has broken off from the unconscious, has begun to function independently, and is then thrown back in the main consciousness. Gross: Über Bewusstseinzerfall. 43 Several of these articles are published in Niederland, William G. (1984): The Schreber Case: Psychoanalytic Profile of a Paranoid Personality. Hillsdale, N.J.2 44 Ibid., 57. 45 Schatzman, Morton (1973): Soul Murder: Persecution in the Family. London. 46 Shengold reviewed Schatzman’s book after its publication and presented ‘soul murder’ as the term of child abuse and deprivation in a 1979 article in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, reprinted in: Shengold, Leonard (2013): If You Can’t Trust Your Mother, Who Can You Trust? Soul Murder, Psychoanalysis, and Creativity. London. In this book, Shengold writes that Anselm von Feuerbach used the term already in 1832 when describing the Kaspar Hauser case, and that Schreber might have gotten the notion from there: p. 4. 47 Lothane: In Defense of Schreber. The German translation of this work contains the most complete biographical material on Schreber thus far published: Lothane (2004): Seelenmord und Psychiatrie: zur Rehabilitierung Schrebers. Giessen. BEYOND THE MODERN SELF 81 rights context, as a consequence of the basic violation of the human right to selfdetermination. Eric Santner, whose My Private Germany is one of the richest interpretations of the Schreber case in its cultural context, read “soul murder” in a similar fashion, as suggestive of “a traumatic experience of interpersonal influence at the hands of a powerful and trusted figure of authority.”48 This violation of the autonomous borders of the individual has also been identified with the treatment to which Schreber was subjected. In a detailed analysis of Schreber’s symptoms and of the treatment he received, Uwe Peeters pointed out that Flechsig’s use of chlorine, opium and bromides to suppress Schreber’s hallucinations might have had the reverse effect.49 The judge’s mental health might thus have been literally destroyed by an invasion of poison. Another, equally important, role that Flechsig played in Schreber’s illness derived from the materialistic light in which he regarded the judge’s illness and mental illness in general. Flechsig broke radically with the romantic approach to mental illness adopted by his predecessor J.Chr.A. Heinroth (who was godfather of Schreber’s elder brother, bringing the dynastic struggle between the Schrebers and Flechsigs closer to reality). Instead he embarked on a scientific crusade to eliminate any interpretation that was not a material explanation.50 In Discourse Networks, Friedrich Kittler described how Flechsig’s approach translated into the despiritualized and automated nature of Schreber’s revelations and the language in which he reported them. As Eric Santner observed, Kittler showed how Flechsig’s “neuratomical” understanding of the brain “can be a literal reading of soul murder.”51 In a later essay, Kittler also suggested that Schreber’s writing was meant to save him from Flechsig’s attempt to murder his soul. Schreber knew of Flechsig’s practice of performing autopsies in which he dissected of the brains of his patients, thus after death murdering their souls by denying their existence beyond the brain. Schreber’s soul, however, would survive by being embodied in his text.52 Despite their obvious differences, these approaches identify Schreber’s illness – or others’ handling of his illness – with violation: the violation of a small child’s need to develop in physical safety and without coercion; of sexual integrity; of legal autonomy; and of the right to be regarded as more than a body (a body, moreover, in the hands of another who has power over it). These approaches do a great deal of justice to Schreber’s own experience of being violated, and each of 48 Santner, Eric L. (1996): My Own Private Germany: Daniel Paul Schreber’s Secret History of Modernity. Princeton, p. 22. 49 Peters, U. H. (1995): Daniel Paul Schrebers, des Senatspräsidenten Krankheit, in: Fortschritte der Neurologie-Psychiatrie 63/12, p. 476. 50 Lothane: Seelenmord und Psychiatrie, pp. 315–390. 51 Kittler, Friedrich A. (1990): Discourse Networks 1800/1900. Stanford; Santner: My Own Private Germany, p. 22. 52 Kittler: Friedrich A. (2013): The Truth of the Technological World: Essays on the Genealogy of Presence. Stanford, 64. ALEXANDER VAN DER HAVEN82 these elements can indeed be found in Schreber’s memoirs. The book’s publisher censored a number of passages dealing with “soul murder” that concerned Schreber’s family, suggesting that there was something sorely amiss in his personal relationships. In chapter 5, Schreber identifies “soul murder” with God’s intention to sexually abuse him, and one could translate this into memories of child abuse. His book is subtitled, “under which conditions can a person regarded as mentally ill remain institutionalized against her expressed will?” Thus one of the purposes of his work was the furthering of patients’ rights. And Kittler’s interpretation of the murder of Schreber’s soul through the denial of its existence is also grounded in Schreber’s memoir, for instance in his belief that souls can be destroyed by being dissolved into those of others, or by high temperatures, as in cremation.53 The excitable self: Schreber and his contemporaries54 Most of Schreber’s readers have focused on specific aspects of his experience of vulnerability and violation. Here, instead, I want to look at the cultural context in which that experience was embedded. My main source will be Die Gegenwart, a popular weekly which Schreber read regularly. The October 7, 1893 issue contained an advertisement for the medical use of bromides.55 The ad, which had already appeared several times in Die Gegenwart, stated: Bromides – superior remedy for nervous suffering of all kinds, in particular headache, excitement with insomnia because of overlabor or overexcitement at work, fearfulness, neurasthenic, hysteric and epileptic conditions. Scientific articles about use and effect for free at your disposal. Available in the bigger pharmacies and mineral water stores.56 On October 1, a week before this advertisement ran, Schreber had assumed his position as President of the Dresden Court of Appeals. His description of the first weeks in his new position closely correspond to the symptomatic narrative of the advertisement. “The work pressure I experienced,” Schreber wrote, was “exceptionally great.” “So it happened,” Schreber wrote, after explaining the reasons for the pressure, “that after a few weeks already I felt mentally overbur- 53 To argue this, Schreber wrote a separate appendix, titled “Feuerbestattung betreffend” (‘concerning cremation’), Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, pp. 344–348. 54 This section is in part from Van der Haven: The Other Zarathustra, pp. 177–185. 55 Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, p. 64, n. 36. On Die Gegenwart, see: Pohl, Heinz-Alfred (1973): Die Gegenwart (1872–1931), in: Fischer, Heinz-Dietrich (ed.): Deutsche Zeitschriften des 17. bis 20. Jahrhunderts. Pullach. 56 “Brom – souveränes Mittel bei nervösen Leiden aller Art, bes. Kopfschmerz, Erregung mit Schlaflosigkeit durch Berufsüberbürdung oder berufsmässige Überreizung, Ängstlichkeit, neurasthenischen, hysterischen, und epileptischen Zuständen. Wissenschaftliche Arbeiten über Anwendung und Wirkung gratis zur Verfügung. Niederlage in größeren Apotheken und Mineralwasserhandlungen.” Die Gegenwart 43 no. 40 (October 7, 1893). BEYOND THE MODERN SELF 83 dened.”57 As a result, Schreber became unable to sleep and began to take bromide-sodium. We will never know whether Schreber started to take bromides because of the advertisement. What is more important is the language of the advertisement, which presents a set of symptoms apparently commonly “practiced” enough to justify an advertisement’s placement in one of Germany’s most popular weeklies. This language of suffering is a language of excitability and overstimulation of the nerves that also pervades Schreber’s memoirs, a language that led Schreber to think of his illness in magical terms. The notion of physical nerves and their excitability was common in German materialist psychiatry and therapeutic practices of the nineteenth century.58 For instance, Schreber senior wrote in his bestselling treatise on gymnastics that “our whole physical and emotional well-being rests on the ordinary state of the nervous system. It seems particularly to depend on the right balance between these two parts of the nervous system in regard to their state of excitement and activity.”59 On the one hand, this balance was a technical matter of physically preventing and curing excitability. On the other hand, for many people, including Moritz Schreber, it was also a moral one. One of the threats to a healthy tone of spirits was, Moritz wrote, “that dangerous moral enemy against which the most careful physical treatment alone is to no avail.” (Apparently Schreber assumed that his readers knew what that dangerous moral enemy was).60 Another source of the overexcitement of nerves was that disease of modernity which Max Nordau had made famous in his bestseller on degeneration. (Judge Schreber had presided over Nordau’s lawsuit against his publisher). In his memoirs, Schreber describes “a general overexcitement of the nerves as a result of an excess of cul- 57 “Die Arbeitslast, die ich vorfand, war, wie bereits bemerkt, ungemein groß […] So geschah es, daß ich mich schon nach einigen Wochen geistig übernommen hatte.” Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, p. 38. 58 When one reads for instance Max Weber’s autobiographical account of his nervous episode, or that of Wilhelm Ostwald, who was also Flechsig’s patient, one encounters the same language of excitable nerves that both Moritz and Daniel Paul Schreber use. Both write about the detrimental effect feeling overworked had on their sleep and their nervous system. Radkau, Joachim (2005): Max Weber: Die Leidenschaft des Denkens. München; Ostwald, Wilhelm (1926): Lebenslinien: Eine Selbstbiographie. Berlin. For a characterization of the “era of nervousness” see Radkau, Joachim (1998): Das Zeitalter der Nervosität: Deutschland zwischen Bismarck und Hitler. München. 59 “Auf dem ganz normalen Zustande des Nervensystems in allen seinen Teilen beruht offenbar zunächst unser ganzes körperliches und gemütliches Wohlbefinden. Ganz besonders scheint es darauf anzukommen, daß sich jene beiden Seiten des Nervensystems hinsichtlich ihres Erregungs- und Thätigkeitszustandes die Wage halten.” Schreber, Daniel Gottlieb Moritz (1890): Aerztliche Zimmergymnastik, oder, System der ohne Geräth und Beistand überall ausführbaren heilgymnastischen Freiübungen als Mittel der Gesundheit und Lebenstüchtigkeit: für beide Geschlechter, jedes Alter und alle Gebrauchszwecke. Leipzig, p. 22. 60 “und wodurch auch jener gefährliche moralische Feind besiegt wird an dem bei vielen chronischen Kranken selbst die auserwählt beste körperliche Kur scheitert.” Ibid., 10. ALEXANDER VAN DER HAVEN84 ture.”61 Thus, the lack of morals and an “excess of culture” join the magician Flechsig as violators of the “world order.” In Schreber’s memoirs, the most dramatic engagement with the nerves of others was brought about by hypnosis. As mentioned, Schreber suggested that hypnosis had caused the nerve contact which had given him so much suffering. In a footnote to a passage in which he called Flechsig a “magician” (Zauberer), Schreber added: “Mentioned [by the voices] was also the name of the French doctor Brouardel, who had imitated Flechsig.”62 In real life, Paul Brouardel was a renowned specialist on hypnosis. Moreover, Brouardel was involved in an event similar to Schreber’s (understanding of his) own case, namely, a hypnotic crime. Before turning to this crime, I will briefly address the contemporary debates about hypnosis and their presence in Schreber’s memoirs. Hypnosis was a topic hotly debated at the time, both among psychiatrists such as Bernheim, Charcot, Forel, and Wundt, and in the newspapers and weeklies of the period, including Die Gegenwart. Wilhelm Wundt (“Rektor Professor W… from Leipzig” in the memoirs), was a renowned philosopher and folk-psychologist who had published a work called Hypnotismus und Suggestion the year before Schreber succumbed to his illness. In this book, Wundt rejected the idea that hypnosis could reveal deeper layers of the self that are inaccessible in normal states.63 Instead, Wundt regarded hypnosis as a pathological state in which the normal consciousness is merely limited. Hypnotizing patients would therefore simply restrict their mental functioning rather than stimulating hidden layers. Wundt saw hypnosis as relatively harmless, though ineffective as a remedy. Others were more worried about its effects. Opponents of hypnosis stressed the bad effects hypnosis could have not only on the psychological health of those hypnotized, but also on those who attended hypnotic demonstrations. Although most prosecutions of hypnotists were based on accusations of fraud, sometimes the prosecution took more seriously the supersensory forces allegedly at play.64 In the fall of 1889, the newspapers reported that the Austrian-Hungarian House 61 “allgemeiner Nervenüberreizung in Folge von Ueberkultur.” Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, p. 163. Nordau, Max (1892–1893): Entartung, 2 vols. Berlin. On Nordau: Söder, Hans-Peter (1991): Disease and Health as Contexts of Modernity: Max Nordau as a Critic of Finde-Siècle Modernism, in: German Studies Review 14/3, pp. 473–487. The case between Max Nordau and his publisher Balthasar Elischer concerned his novel Die Krankheit des Jahrhunderts: Staatsarchiv Leipzig, Akten Landesgericht 20114: 8249. 62 “Genannt wurde mir auch einmal der Name eines französischen Artzes ‘Brouardel,’ der es dem Professor Flechsig nachgemacht haben sollte.” Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, p. 91, n. 46. 63 Ibid., p. 50. In the years before Schreber’s hospitalization, Wundt had been the president of the University of Leipzig. Wundt, Wilhelm Max (1892): Hypnotismus und Suggestion. Leipzig. 64 Treitel, Adele (1999): Avatars of the Soul: Cultures of Science, Medicine, and the Occult in Modern Germany. Dissertation, Harvard University, pp. 312–370. BEYOND THE MODERN SELF 85 of Representatives had forwarded to the Reichsrat government a proposed new criminal law: The person who for cure, for the avoidance or diminishment of pain, for teaching, for experiments, demonstrations, performances or for other purposes, uses remedies that suspend or weaken the consciousness of another person, or randomly influence that person’s mental capacities, shall, when here a law is transgressed, be punished with arrest or a fine up to 300 Fl. Austria’s minister of justice advised the government to enact the law without delay, since it concerned a matter of “great danger.” 65 Someone else who worried about the effects of hypnosis was Dr. Franz Wollny, a frequent contributor to Die Gegenwart. Wollny published a “compendium” to Wundt’s work, in which he claimed that the government extensively performed hypnosis on criminals, and that the unintended effect of this could be widespread epidemics. Illnesses caused by hypnosis also endangered Eastern Europe, Wollny claimed, where occult practitioners – remnants of Napoleon’s army – performed their magic.66 Although well-known psychiatrists like Kraepelin had declared Wollny insane, the editorial staff of the respected Gegenwart did not refuse his frequent contributions, and his publisher Walter Wigand advertised his book repeatedly there – both indications that the suspicion of madness did not necessarily deter the German public.67 Like Schreber, Wollny believed that the psychic system is composed of very delicate matter, on which, because of its material nature, external influences could operate. Quoting Anton Mesmer (who had coined the term animal-magnetism, and who would be an important influence on the development of psychiatry), Wollny claimed that this material was “a substance of fineness without equal, able to absorb, reproduce, and communicate all sorts of impressions when set into motion.” This substance, Wollny wrote, is found everywhere and constitutes the invisible link that regulates the relationships not only between humans, but also between humans and heavenly bodies. It is especially active in 65 “Wer zur Heilung von Krankheiten, zur Verhütung oder Stillung von Schmerzen, zum Unterrichte, zu Versuchen, Demonstrationen, Schaustellungen, oder zu anderen Zwecken Mittel anwendet, welche das Bewusstsein eines Menschen aufheben oder abschwächen, oder dessen Geistestätigkeiten willkürlig bestimmen, wird, wenn er hie[r]bei einer Verordnung zuwiderhandelt, mit Haft oder an Gelt bis zu 300 Fl. bestraft.” Cited in Kusmanek, J. (n.d.): Der Hypnotismus im Dienst der Staaten und der Menschheit. Leipzig, p. 15. Kusmanek’s book is referred to by Du Prel in: Suggestion vor Gericht, in: Die Gegenwart 39/1891/6, pp. 86–89. 66 Wollny, F. (1893): In Sachen der Hypnose und Suggestion: Ein Vademecum für Herrn Professor Wundt. Leipzig. Note here the similarity with Schreber’s belief that the ‘World Order’ was disturbed as the unintended effect of Flechsig’s hypnosis. 67 Wollny: In Sachen der Hypnose, p. 15. ALEXANDER VAN DER HAVEN86 sexuality: the sex drive directs it, but sexual arousal also weakens resistance against this magnetic substance.68 While many regarded hypnosis as dangerous to one’s health, some went further and claimed that hypnosis could be used for criminal purposes. In 1891, Die Gegenwart covered in great detail the trial in Paris of Gabrielle Bompard, who was accused of murder. She had confessed to the deed, but the responsibility for the murder was still debated. The defense called two expert witnesses. The first was Paul Brouardel (mentioned in the Memoirs), who was head of the Paris University psychiatric clinic. The second was Professor Liégeois, a hypnosis expert from Nancy (he replaced the famous Bernheim because of the latter’s broken leg). These experts argued that Bompard had committed her crime as a result of criminal hypnosis, and they succeeded in making her lover, Eyraud, confess that he had tried to hypnotize her. They disagreed only about whether Bompard could have been made to committed such a heinous crime if she had not had the disposition to do it in the first place.69 Apparently, they were more successful in convincing the judge than the prosecution’s expert witness, who had rejected the whole notion of hypnotic crime as unscientific. The criminal hypnotizer was condemned to death, while the murderess received a sentence of twenty years of forced labor. One of Die Gegenwart’s commentators on the Bompard case was Carl du Prel, a prolific author of popular-scientific works and one of Schreber’s favorite authors. In an article called in translation “the hypnotic crime,” du Prel challenged legal scholars to investigate this new form of crime because of its radical implications for the law.70 Du Prel also argued that the issue suggested some historical revisions. For example the “medieval trials of witches and sorcerers gain in the light of hypnotism and somnambulism an appearance that is completely different from [how they look] when they come in front of a jurist who is unfamiliar with the field of abnormal powers and states of the soul.”71 On the basis of the nascent science of hypnosis, du Prel argued that older magical beliefs, which appeared to many moderns to be pure superstition, might have a kernel of truth. Not only that, but they might also point towards certain forms of crime invisible to modern jurists. Schreber’s fear of being hypnotized against his will, and his discussion of the extent to which Flechsig should be held responsible for this, reflects these con- 68 “dessen Feinheit keinen Vergleich zuläßt, und das alle Arten von Einwirkungen, welche durch die Bewegung hervorgerufen werden, aufzunehmen, fortzupflanzen, und mitzutheilen fähig soll.” Ibid., p. 19. 69 Du Prel: Suggestion vor Gericht. 70 This issue has since remained controversial in criminal law. 71 “Die mittelalterliche Prozesse gegen Hexen und Zauberer gewinnen im Lichte des Hypnotismus und Somnambulismus ein ganz anderes Aussehen, als sie für einen Juristen haben mögen, dem das Gebiet der abnormen Seelenkräfte und Seelenzustände unbekannt ist.” Du Prel, Carl (1889): Das hypnotische Verbrechen und seine Entdeckung. München, p. 10. BEYOND THE MODERN SELF 87 temporary concerns about hypnosis. Schreber, like du Prel and others, felt he had to address the possibility that an individual’s behavior, whether criminal or pathological, might have an external cause. To hold the victims of these magical acts fully accountable for their behaviors while the perpetrators of magic went unpunished seemed unjust, and could lead to destabilization of the social order. These fears represent a heightened anxiety over the porous self. However, this is not the whole story of Schreber’s experience, for in the second year of his hospitalization he had a change of heart. By embracing this vulnerable self, he became, he claimed, the greatest spirit seer of all times. Schreber’s conversion Schreber’s readers have largely ignored this crucial moment in the course of Schreber’s hospitalization, which he described in detail in his Memoirs. After two years of being hospitalized, Schreber underwent what best can be described as a conversion experience, in which he ceased resisting the invasion of divine rays that were turning him into a woman. Translated into Taylor’s terminology, Schreber stopped fighting the divine unbuffering of his self, and embraced his porous self. This conversion experience took place in November 1895, and it is worth describing in full.72 “That point in time,” Schreber wrote, “I still remember precisely. It coincided with a number of beautiful late-autumn days, during which dense mists developed over the Elbe every morning.” In this period, he continued, “the signs of the feminization of my body became so pronounced, that I could no longer avoid accepting the immanent goal of this whole development.” If he “had not in the nights prior followed the aspirations of the masculine sense of honor and put my will against it, it might have come to a real withdrawal of the penis; so close was the miracle to its completion.” The “soul voluptuousness” – the feelings of lust engendered by the increase of feminine nerves – had become so strong that “beginning with the arms and hands, then with the legs, chest, behind and all other body parts, I received the impression of having a female body.”73 72 The first part of this section was adopted from Van der Haven, The Other Zarathustra, pp. 39–42. 73 “Ich erinnere mich des Zeitpunktes noch genau; er fiel zusammen mit einer Anzahl schöner Spätherbsttage, an denen morgens jedesmal starke Nebelbildung auf der Elbe stattfand. In dieser Zeit traten die Zeichen der Verweiblichung an meinem Körper so stark hervor, daß ich mich der Erkenntniß des immanenten, auf welches die ganze Entwickelung hinstrebte, nicht länger entziehen konnte. In den unmittelbar vorausgegangenen Nächten wäre es vielleicht, wenn ich nicht noch der Regung männlichen Ehrgefühls folgend, meinen entschiedenen Willen entgegensetzen zu sollen geglaubt hätte, zu einer wirklichen Einziehung des männlichen Geschlechtstheils gekommen; so nahe war das betreffende Wunder der Vollendung. Jedenfalls war die Seelenwollust so stark geworden, daß ich selbst ALEXANDER VAN DER HAVEN88 A few days of “continuously observing these developments were sufficient to bring about a complete change in the direction of my will,” Schreber wrote. Before that he had often considered suicide or hoped to get killed by one of the many threatening miracles. “Now however,” Schreber wrote, “I became aware beyond doubt that the order of the world […] imperatively demanded my emasculation and therefore, on rational grounds, I had no other choice but to reconcile myself to the thought of changing into a woman.”74 The goal of this emasculation, Schreber emphasized, could only be his fertilization by divine rays so that a new people could be created. Those rays that aimed at “discarding” Schreber “did not fail to make a – hypocritical – appeal to my sense of manly honor,” and asked him: “Are you not ashamed before your wife,” or: “What kind of appeals court president would let himself be f…d?”75 Schreber, however, did not let himself be fooled: “Since then I have embraced in full consciousness the cultivation of femininity as a principle, and will do this in the future as much as consideration for my environment permits it. Others, for whom the supersensory grounds [of this process] are hidden, can think of me what they want. I would like to see that man,” Schreber continued, “who, when put to the choice of being an imbecile with a male habitus or a spirited woman, would not choose the latter.”76 From then on, Schreber did everything he could to become a woman. He sat in the hospital garden as often as possible to expose his body to the sun, and zunächst am Arm und an den Händen, später an den Beinen, an dem Busen, am Gesäß und an allen anderen Körpertheilen den Eindruck eines weiblichen Körpers empfing.” Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, p. 176. 74 “Einige Tage fortgesetzter Beobachtung dieser Vorgänge genügten, um eine völlige Veränderung der Willensrichtung in mir herbeizuführen. Bis dahin hatte ich noch immer mit der Möglichkeit gerechnet, daß, wenn mein Leben nicht etwa schon vorher einem der zahlreichen bedrohlichen Wunder zum Opfer fallen sollte, es doch einmal nothwendig für mich werden würde, meinem Leben durch Selbstmord ein Ende zu machen; außer der Selbstentleibung schien nur irgendwelcher andere schreckensvolle Ausgang von unter Menschen nie dagewesener Art im Bereich der Möglichkeit zu liegen. Nunmehr aber wurde mir unzweifelhaft bewußt, daß die Weltordnung die Entmannung, mochte sie mir persönlich zusagen oder nicht, gebieterisch verlange und daß mir daher aus Vernunftgründen gar nichts Anderes übrig bleibe, als mich mit dem Gedanken der Verwandlung in ein Weib zu befreunden.” (italics in original) Ibid., pp. 176–177. 75 “Diejenigen Strahlen freilich, die von dem Bestreben, mich “liegen zu lassen” und mir zu diesem Behufe den Verstand zu zerstören, ausgingen, verfehlten nicht, sich alsbald eines – heuchlerischen – Appells an mein männliches Ehrgefühl zu bedienen; eine der seitdem bei jedem Hervortreten der “Seelenwollust” unzählige Male wiederholten Redensarten lautete dahin: “Schämen Sie sich denn nicht vor Ihrer Frau Gemahlin?” oder auch noch gemeiner: “Das will ein Senatspräsident gewesen sein, der sich f..... läßt?” Ibid., p. 177. 76 “Ich habe seitdem die Pflege der Weiblichkeit mit vollem Bewußtsein auf meine Fahne geschrieben und werde dies, soweit es die Rücksicht auf meine Umgebung gestattet, auch fernerhin thun, mögen andere Menschen, denen die übersinnlichen Gründe verborgen sind, von mir denken, was sie wollen. Ich möchte auch denjenigen Mann sehen, der vor die Wahl gestellt, entweder ein blödsinniger Mensch mit männlichem Habitus oder ein geistreiches Weib zu werden, nicht das Letztere vorziehen würde.” Ibid., pp. 178–179. BEYOND THE MODERN SELF 89 generated a feeling of bliss so that the flow of divine solar rays changing his body into that of a woman would be continuous. For hours he sat in one of the garden chairs, immobile like a corpse, so that divine rays would not be deterred by him.77 This “absolute passivity” Schreber regarded as his “religious duty.”78 With his imagination, he created for himself and the rays the “impression […] that my body was equipped with female breasts and genitals,” and got so used to this mental effort that whenever he bent over, he mentally drew “a female behind.”79 This “drawing,” as he called it, was a “reversed miracle,” which meant that not only could the rays impress images on his nervous system, but he could also “show to them images that I want to impress on them.”80 Weber (his psychiatrist in Sonnenstein) also noticed Schreber’s “pathologically changed worldview,” expressed in behaviors such as shaving off his moustache and dressing and acting like a woman.81 Schreber’s dramatic description of his “change in direction of will,” which undoubtedly refers to an actual experience, represents a gradual shift that took place in Schreber’s thinking and the actions he based on it. This shift happened during his illness, and was not quite completed when he wrote his memoirs. In fact, as his writing progressed, the term “soul murder” lost the prominent role Schreber gave it in the first chapters of the Memoirs. (The chapters were written in chronological order from October 1900 to June 1901, and were also structured as a chronological narration of his years of suffering.) In the book’s footnotes, which Schreber added in the two years after finishing the main part, “soul murder” is mentioned, but not to describe his victimhood. On the contrary, twice Schreber refers to “soul murder” as a false accusation that the voices he heard made against him. Moreover, the second of these comments, written in February 1901, is given as an example of the hallucinative phrases that were slowly fading 77 Ibid., pp. 141–143. 78 “daß ich eine absolute Passivität gleichsam als eine religiöse Verpflichtung betrachtete.” Ibid., p. 141. 79 “mir selbst und den Strahlen den Eindruck verschaffen, daß mein Körper mit weiblichen Brüsten und weiblichem Geschlechtstheil ausgestattet sei. Das Zeichnen eines weiblichen Hinterns an meinen Körper – honny soit qui mal y pense – ist mir so zur Gewohnheit geworden, daß ich dies beim Bücken jedesmal fast unwillkürlich thue.” Ibid., p. 233. 80 “Das ‘Zeichnen’ in der vorstehend entwickelten Bedeutung glaube ich hiernach mit Recht im gewissen Sinne ein umgekehrtes Wundern nennen zu dürfen. Gerade so wie durch Strahlen namentlich in Träumen gewisse Bilder, die man zu sehen wünscht, auf mein Nervensystem geworfen werden, bin ich umgekehrt in der Lage, den Strahlen meinerseits Bilder vorzuführen, deren Eindruck ich diesen zu verschaffen beabsichtige.” Ibid., p. 233. 81 “veränderten Weltanschauung […] daß auch in dem Benehmen des Kranken, in dem Glattrasieren des Gesichts, in seiner Freude an weiblichen Toilettegegenständen, an kleinen weiblichen Hantierungen, in der Neigung, sich mehr oder weniger zu entblößen und im Spiegel zu beträchtigen, sich mit bunten Bändern, Schnüren pp. in weiblicher Art zu schmücken, die eigenartige pathologische Richtung seiner Vorstellungen sich fortdauernd kundgiebt.” Ibid., p. 388. ALEXANDER VAN DER HAVEN90 away.82 “Soul murder” would only reappear, and then in full force, in the open letter that Schreber wrote in March 1903. It seems that over the course of his illness, “soul murder” ceased to be a central element expressing Schreber’s powerlessness against the forces assaulting him. Schreber gradually abandoned the goal of restoring the “buffer” of his self and becoming again a sane agnostic man, bereft of the divine spirit. Instead, he embraced his destiny as a spirited woman (geistreiches Weib). He did so despite recognizing that he would be regarded as insane by those around him, and persecuted for conveying religious truths most did not want to hear (though he hoped he would eventually convince humanity). With this change of heart he rebelled against the societal norms he had formerly embodied as a moustache-wearing man, sane of mind, and far from any tendencies towards religious zealotry.83 Instead he joined an army of predominantly female spirit seers who had been on the receiving end of laws that either criminalized or pathologized them. Schreber had little choice but to embrace this new role. He could either submit to his soul’s murder by becoming a blödsinniger Mensch, an imbecilic or mentally defective person, or he could become one who was spirit-filled. Like a prophet of old, or a shaman, Schreber believed, he would actually become mentally incapacitated were he to try to keep up his buffer and resist his call. Jung, who also wrote about Schreber (from whom Freud learned of him), saw the judge as someone who had failed to emerge from the individuation process, thus becoming a “split self.” However (as Eric Santner has suggested is also true of Freud), Jung took more from Schreber than he admitted. As would Jung later, Schreber claimed that he had to embrace his descent into madness for the very health of his soul.84 Schreber also defended his porous self in psychiatric and in legal terms. Sonnenstein’s library had an up-to-date collection of psychiatric publications. It contained Emil Kraepelin’s 1896 fifth edition of Psychiatrie, which was lent to Schreber for a time.85 “I have therefore learned with interest,” Schreber wrote, that the idea somehow to be in supernatural contact with voices has often been observed also with people whose nerves were in a state of diseased excitement. I do not doubt that in many cases we are dealing with [the] simple delusions that the book mentioned generally regards them to be. However, science would not do itself justice when it would define 82 Ibid., pp. 129 n. 62 and 310 n. 114. 83 In the memoirs he declared to have been a moderate regarding religious questions. Ibid., pp. 63–64. 84 See Wouter Hanegraaff ’s contribution to this volume. 85 He refers to the “auf einige Zeit leihweise zur Verfügung gestellten Lehrbuch der Psychiatrie von Kräpelin” Ibid., 78. Kraepelin, Emil (1896): Psychiatrie: Ein Lehrbuch für Studi[e]rende und Aerzte. Leipzig5. Lothane suggests that Schreber read Kraepelin because the latter was an opponent of Flechsig’s materialistic method. Leipzig Psychiatry museum holds a remnant of Sonnenstein’s library. BEYOND THE MODERN SELF 91 all such phenomena as lacking any objective reality and throw them away in the general junk room of unreal things.”86 Schreber continued to argue that if psychiatry wants to be truly scientific, it should study him and others without prejudice: Also the so-called mediums of the Spiritualists could be, even if in many cases self-deception and deceit slips in, spirit seers of the lower degree. In such cases one should be wary of unscientific generalization and premature condemnation. If psychiatry does not want to simply deny anything supersensory and thus step with both feet in the camp of naked materialism, it cannot ignore the possibility that such phenomena are real things that cannot be dismissed as mere ‘delusions.’87 In a footnote, Schreber added: those who, like Kraepelin p. 146, simply want to understand ‘healthy experience’ to mean the denial of everything supersensory, should in my opinion be reproached for only letting themselves be guided by the shallow ‘rationalist ideas of the Enlightenment period’ of the 18th century that scientifically are mostly regarded as outmoded, especially by theologians and philosophers.88 For present purposes, the importance of Schreber’s statement that claims of supernatural contact should be taken seriously does not lie in the question of whether the claims are true or false. What is important is that by making this claim, Schreber maintained that not all experiences of a porous self should be regarded as pathological. Likewise, as Peter Goodrich recently argued, Schreber convinced the court that someone who is declared mentally ill for claiming su- 86 “die Vorstellung, mit irgendwelchen Stimmen in übernatürlichem Verkehr zu stehen, auch sonst bei Menschen, deren Nerven sich in einem Zustande von krankhafter Erregung befanden, öfters beobachtet worden ist. Ich will durchaus nicht bezweifeln, daß man es in sehr vielen derartigen Fällen mit bloßen Sinnestäuschungen zu thun haben mag, als welche sie in dem genannten Lehrbuche durchweg behandelt werden. Allein die Wissenschaft würde meines Erachtens doch sehr unrecht thun, wenn sie alle derartige Erscheinungen als jeder objektiven Realität entbehrend mit der Bezeichnung als “Sinnestäuschungen” in die allgemeine Rumpelkammer der unwirklichen Dinge werfen wollte [...]” Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, pp. 78–79. 87 “Auch die sogen. Medien der Spiritisten dürften, wennschon in vielen Fällen, Selbsttäuschung und Betrug mit unterlaufen mag, doch in einer nicht geringen Zahl von anderen Fällen als wirkliche Geisterseher niederen Grades in dem angegebenen Sinne anzusehen sein. Man hüte sich also in solchen Dingen vor unwissenschaftlicher Generalisierung und vorschneller Aburtheilung. Wenn die Psychiatrie nicht schlechthin alles Uebersinnliche leugnen und solchergestalt mit beiden Füßen in das Lager des nackten Materialismus treten will, so wird sie nicht umhin können, die Möglichkeit anzuerkennen, daß man es bei Erscheinungen der beschriebenen Art unter Umständen mit wirklichen Vorgängen zu thun habe, die sich nicht ohne Weiteres mit dem Schlagworte “Sinnestäuschungen” abfertigen lassen.”Ibid., pp. 79–80. 88 “Wer dagegen unter ‘gesunder Erfahrung’ im Sinne von Kräpelin S. 146 etwa einfach das Leugnen alles Uebersinnlichen verstehen wollte, der würde nach meinem Dafürhalten vielmehr seinerseits dem Vorwurf begegnen, daß er sich nur von den seicht ‘rationalistischen Vorstellungen der Aufklärungsperiode’ des 18. Jahrhunderts leiten lasse, die doch auch wissenschaftlich, insbesondere bei Theologen und Philosophen, vorwiegend als überwunden gelten.” Ibid., p. 79 n. 42. ALEXANDER VAN DER HAVEN92 pernatural experiences can still be a competent legal agent.89 In early 1900, Schreber had filed a brief appealing his declaration of mental incompetency on the pragmatic grounds that he did not pose a physical danger to others or to himself. In it he used language such as Freiheitsberaubung (deprivation of freedom), that relates to the ideal of and “right” to a buffered self. At that time, he did not mention any of his religious experiences.90 A year and a half later, however, he pursued quite a different strategy. In a second brief, filed on July 31, 1901, Schreber contested the claim that he was mentally ill. He declared instead that he suffered from a nervous illness, which caused him to experience influences on his nervous system originating from outside his self. These influences, however, did not impair the functioning of his mind. In other words, Schreber argued that his experiences of external influences should not automatically be identified with the inability to act rationally in practical life.91 The poor judge, of course, also hoped to convince his judges that he truly had contact with supernatural agents; but his appeal primarily served to establish the legal legitimacy of the porous self. While du Prel pleaded for a revision of criminal law that would recognize criminal activity toward other porous selves, Schreber (like Gabrielle Bompard’s eminent expert witnesses), gave detailed descriptions of how his behavior had been influenced by outside forces, turning him into a victim of a crime rather than of madness. For instance, to take one of the less bizarre examples, divine forces set into motion Schreber’s “muscles of the lungs and breast with the result that I am […] forced to bellow or scream when I do not strenuously try to suppress it, which is not always possible because these impulses are quite sudden and can only be detected by constant attention.”92 With this in mind, we can read an accusation Schreber made in his description of his November 1895 conversion as representing a profound insight. Schreber claimed that the superhuman voices that were speaking to him were hypocritical when they appealed to his manly honor to resist the influx of divine rays.93 Having incessantly invaded Schreber’s senses, they knew full well that the buffered self was a deceptive and unattainable ideal, and that it was therefore only natural that an “appeals court president would let himself be f…d.”94 To borrow a turn of phrase from Bruno Latour, the voices tried to hide the truth that “we have never been buffered.”95 89 Goodrich, Peter (2015): The Judgeʼs Two Bodies: The Case of Daniel Paul Schreber, in: Law and Critique 26/2, pp. 117–133. 90 Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, pp. 363–376. 91 Ibid., p. 412. 92 Ibid., pp. 414–415. 93 Ibid., p. 177. 94 Ibid. 95 Latour, Bruno (1993): We Have Never Been Modern. New York. Latour proposes to discard the modern distinction between nature and culture. BEYOND THE MODERN SELF 93 Madness, religion, and the modern porous self Together with other more and less sane contemporaries, Schreber revealed the lie of the buffered self, and showed that in order for certain kinds of religious experiences to occur it was necessary to embrace the porous self. I will conclude with a suggestion and an observation. My suggestion is that many of the religious experiences of the modern porous self are necessarily also experiences of madness. My observation is that Schreber’s acceptance of the porousness of his self gave him a newfound agency. To begin with my suggestion. Although Schreber’s reinvented porous self appears to be a reconstitution of the premodern self that Charles Taylor described, it is not identical to it. It is not a pre-buffered self, but a post-buffered self. In an insightful reading of Schreber’s memoirs, Louis Sass suggests that the notion of self the book offers is not an antithesis to, but rather an example of, what Michel Foucault characterized as modern subjectivity.96 Foucault argued that in the modern period, the human subject increasingly became the object of constant observation and supervision. His famous example illustrating this process was Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon. Bentham designed a prison in which the prisoners are continuously exposed to the invasive gaze of prison guards who, themselves invisible, can observe from a central tower each individual cell at all times. Because the prisoners cannot see whether the guards are looking at them, they feel they are indeed being constantly observed. This experience of being under constant observation, Foucault argued, is internalized, and becomes part of the process of constituting the individual subject. Sass took the internalization of this constant gaze to be characteristic of the modern heightened awareness of self, a state that he called hyperreflexivity. Schreber’s experience of the self embodies this hyperreflexivity. “Schreber’s vulnerability,” Sass writes, is “even more profound than that of Bentham’s evervisible prisoner, for Schreber’s is an inner panopticism; and not even the boundaries of the body provide protection against these rays that exist in a dimension beyond the physical and can penetrate to the core of his being.”97 In other words, Schreber’s self has become entirely porous while, in addition, he is forced to watch this porousness as if he were an external observer. Therefore, in addition to the experience of being invaded, there is another presence, Schreber’s own hyperreflexive self, who observes everything, thinks about it, and feels profoundly separated from and alien to it. This peculiar combination of porousness and hyperreflexivity generates experiences that we identify with madness. It creates a sense of unrealness, uncanniness, 96 Sass, Louis A. (1992): Madness and Modernism: Insanity in the Light of Modern Art, Literature, and Thought. New York. 97 Ibid., p. 255 (italics in original). See also: Sass, Louis A. (1987): Schreber’s Panopticism: Psychosis and the Modern Soul, in: Social Research 54, pp. 101–147. ALEXANDER VAN DER HAVEN94 bizarreness, elements that are also strongly present in Schreber’s report of his experiences. For instance, Schreber writes frequently about “miracled men,” semblances of real people that in truth are only appearances. Later he comes to realize that some of these were real people after all. Thus, the porous hyperreflexive self makes reality unreal. Sass contends that this alienated relationship to reality, rather than the lack of control over the passions, is true madness. Madmen like Schreber are not characterized by “their presumed spontaneity and sensual abandon.” Rather their madness seems to “derive from a heightening rather than a dimming of conscious awareness, and an alienation not from reason but from the emotions, instincts, and the body.”98 Lacan argued that the unemotional character of Schreber’s experiences of being invaded by divine forces distinguished them from “authentic” religious experiences, such as those of the medieval poet and mystic John of the Cross. Poetic and authentic religiosity “introduces us to a world that is other than our own, and also makes it become our own, making present a being, a certain fundamental relationship.”99 Since Schreber’s writing lacks the attempt to create this fundamental relationship, instead conveying a sense of alienation and unrealness, Lacan concludes that it is not authentically religious. Yet perhaps the difference between Schreber’s account of his experiences and more traditional ones is not one between madness and religion, but between different ways of experiencing porous selfhood. In addition to the porous self, one can detect in Schreber’s writings the presence of an (at times unwilling) observer of the invaded self. This double presence creates the madness of two selves, one invaded, the other observing and communicating the experience of invasion. In this double identity, Schreber’s self is the modern, Foucauldian, porous self. The observation I would like to add seems at first glance to contradict my suggestion that the modern porous self is a “mad” self. But on closer inspection, I think it does not. The observation is this: by surrendering to the process of being invaded by supersensory forces and turned into a woman, Schreber paradoxically regained control over what was happening to him.100 The rays perished in Schreber’s body, which attracted but also deterred them. By not only embracing but also stimulating the divine influx of rays, Schreber took the lead in the process. I have described how, after his conversion, he used to sit for hours, immobile, in order not to interrupt the influx of divine rays. Through this stillness he aimed to achieve “their [the rays’] complete dissolution in my body.” In this way, Schreber wrote, “the restoration of God’s absolute rule in heaven would become easier.”101 Likewise, by dressing up like a woman, wearing “feminine” trinkets, 98 Sass: Madness and Modernism, p. 4. 99 Lacan: The Psychoses, p. 78. 100 Canetti’s reading mentioned above argues that this sense of power, at least this desire for power, had always been there, for instance in Schreber’s descriptions of a wide-spread apocalypse, which Canetti reads as a desire for mass murder. Canetti: Crowds and Power. 101 Schreber: Denkwürdigkeiten, p. 144. BEYOND THE MODERN SELF 95 and posing bare-chested (or rather, ‑breasted) in front of the mirror, Schreber seduced a God who still found entering Schreber’s body perilous into returning to his created world. Rather than diminishing his agency, Schreber’s surrender empowered the imprisoned judge. A remarkable anecdote revealing of this agency is found in a text written not by Schreber himself, but by Sonnenstein’s chief psychiatrist, Weber, in the first of a series of reports appended to Schreber’s memoirs. The story suggests that Schreber (probably not consciously), tried to hide from his readers, some of whom had the authority to release him from tutelage, the fact that he did not always regard himself as an invaded victim. In his report Weber describes Schreber’s actions toward God from quite a different perspective. Here, the divine bully is Schreber himself. Relevant to understanding this anecdote is the fact that Schreber believed God and the sun were related, and that God actually consisted of two deities whom he identified with the Mandean god Ormuzd and the evil spirit Ahriman. In his report of December 9, 1899, Weber wrote: “in the garden the patient used to stand for a long time without moving at all, looking straight into the sun, and pulling the strangest grimaces, often accompanied with loud or roaring threats and insults at the sun, telling it that it should fear and hide away from him, the appeals president Schreber, also calling himself Ormuzd.”102 At times, our judge was a god himself. In summary, Schreber’s experiences reveal two notions of the self. The first is what Taylor calls a buffered self, which I see rather as a self anxious to be buffered. Reflecting contemporary practices of the self, Schreber suffered greatly from the feeling of being violated by external influences. However, after what I characterized as his religious conversion, Schreber embraced what initially was revealed to him in such a painful way: that the self is not, and never has been, buffered. Moreover his porous self, so he came to understand, not only enabled him to communicate with God, but also, in the mystical and redemptive sense of the word, to commune with God. References Primary Sources Staatsarchiv Leipzig, Akten Landesgericht 20114: 8249 1. 102 Ibid., pp. 381–382. ALEXANDER VAN DER HAVEN96 Secondary Literature Brickman, Celia: Aboriginal Populations of the Mind: Race and Primitivity in Psychoanalysis. New York 2003. Canetti, Elias: Crowds and Power. New York 1978. Deleuze, Gilles – Guattari, Félix: Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis 1983. Descartes, René: Meditations on First Philosophy: With Selections from the Objections and Replies. Cambridge/New York 1986. Devreese, Daniel: L’acte manqué paranoïaque: Le délire de Schreber, entre les quatre discours universitaires et dans l’histoire allemande de Luther à Bismarck. Paris 2003. Du Prel, Carl: Das Hypnotische Verbrechen und seine Entdeckung. München 1889. Du Prel, Carl: Suggestion vor Gericht, in: Die Gegenwart 39/1891/6, pp. 86–89. Freud, Sigmund: Psycho-Analytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia (Dementia Paranoides) (1911), in: The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, v. 12. London 1958, pp. 3–84. Geertz, Clifford: ‘From the Native’s Point of View:’ On the Nature of Anthropological Understanding, in: Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 28/1974/1, pp. 26–45. Goodrich, Peter: The Judges Two Bodies: The Case of Daniel Paul Schreber, in: Law and Critique 26/2015/2, pp. 117–133. Gross, Otto: Über Bewusstseinzerfall, in: Monatschrift für Psychiatrie und Neurologie 15/ 1904, pp. 46–51. Jaspers, Karl: Allgemeine Psychopathologie: für Studierende, Ärzte, und Psychologen. Berlin 1920. Jaynes, Julian: The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Boston 1976. Jung, C. G.: Psychology of Dementia Praecox. Princeton/London 2015. Jung, C. G.: Symbols of Transformation: An Analysis of the Prelude to a Case of Schizophrenia. Princeton 1967. Jung, C. G.: Über die Psychologie der Dementia praecox: Ein Versuch. Halle a. S. 1907. Kant, Immanuel: Kant on Swedenborg: Dreams of a Spirit-Seer and Other Writings. West Chester, PA 2002. Kant, Immanuel: Träume eines Geistersehers, erläutert durch Träume der Metaphysik. Stuttgart 1776. 2. BEYOND THE MODERN SELF 97 Kant, Immanuel – du Prel, Carl: Immanuel Kants Vorlesungen über Psychologie: mit einer Einleitung: Kants mystische Weltanschauung. Leipzig 1889. Kittler, Friedrich A.: Discourse Networks 1800/1900. Stanford 1990. Kittler, Friedrich A.: The Truth of the Technological World: Essays on the Genealogy of Presence. Stanford 2013. Kraepelin, Emil: Psychiatrie: ein Lehrbuch für Studi[e]rende und Aerzte. Leipzig5 1896. Kusmanek, J.: Der Hypnotismus im Dienst der Staaten und der Menschheit. Leipzig n.d. Lacan, Jacques: The Psychoses. New York 1993. Latour, Bruno: We Have Never Been Modern. New York 1993. Lévy-Bruhl, Lucien: Les fonctions mentales dans les sociétés inférieures. Paris 1910. Lothane, Zvi: In Defense of Schreber: Soul Murder and Psychiatry. Hillsdale, NJ: 1992. Lothane, Zvi: Seelenmord und Psychiatrie: zur Rehabilitierung Schrebers. Giessen: 2004. Marshall, Cynthia: The Shattering of the Self: Violence, Subjectivity, and Early Modern Texts. Baltimore 2002. Mauss, Marcel: A Category of the Human Mind: The Notion of Person, the Notion of ‘Self,’ in: Sociology and Psychology: Essays. London/Boston 1979, pp. 57–94. Niederland, William G.: The Schreber Case: Psychoanalytic Profile of a Paranoid Personality. Hillsdale, N.J.2 1984. Nordau, Max: Entartung. 2 vols. Berlin 1892–1893. Ostwald, Wilhelm: Lebenslinien: Eine Selbstbiographie. Berlin 1926. Owen, Alex: The Darkened Room: Women, Power and Spiritualism in Late Victorian England. Philadelphia 1990. Peters, U. H.: Daniel Paul Schrebers, des Senatspräsidenten Krankheit, in: Fortschritte der Neurologie-Psychiatrie 63/1995/12, pp. 469–479. Pohl, Heinz-Alfred: Die Gegenwart (1872–1931), in: Fischer, Heinz-Dietrich (ed.): Deutsche Zeitschriften des 17. bis 20. Jahrhunderts. Pullach 1973, pp. 167–181. Radkau, Joachim: Das Zeitalter der Nervosität: Deutschland zwischen Bismarck und Hitler. München 1998. Radkau, Joachim: Max Weber: Die Leidenschaft des Denkens. München 2005. Santner, Eric L.: My Own Private Germany: Daniel Paul Schreber’s Secret History of Modernity. Princeton 1996. ALEXANDER VAN DER HAVEN98 Sass, Louis A.: Schreber’s Panopticism: Psychosis and the Modern Soul, in: Social Research 54/1987, pp. 101–147. Sass, Louis A.: Madness and Modernism: Insanity in the Light of Modern Art, Literature, and Thought. New York 1992. Schatzman, Morton: Soul Murder: Persecution in the Family. London 1973. Schreber, Daniel Gottlieb Moritz: Aerztliche Zimmergymnastik, oder, System der ohne Geräth und Beistand überall ausführbaren heilgymnastischen Freiübungen als Mittel der Gesundheit und Lebenstüchtigkeit: für beide Geschlechter, jedes Alter und alle Gebrauchszwecke. Leipzig 1890. Schreber, Daniel Paul: Denkwürdigkeiten eines Nervenkranken: Nebst Nachträgen und einem Anhang über die Frage: “Unter welchen Voraussetzungen darf eine für geisteskrank erachtete Person gegen ihren erklärten Willen in einer Heilanstalt festgehalten werden?” Leipzig 1903. Schreber, Daniel Paul: Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. London 1955. Shengold, Leonard: If You Can't Trust Your Mother, Who Can You Trust? Soul Murder, Psychoanalysis, and Creativity. London 2013. Sierhuis, Freya: The Literature of the Arminian Controversy: Religion, Politics and the Stage in the Dutch Republic. New York 2015. Söder, Hans-Peter: Disease and Health as Contexts of Modernity: Max Nordau as a Critic of Fin-de-siècle Modernism, in: German Studies Review 14/1991, pp. 473–487. Taylor, Charles: A Secular Age. Cambridge, MA 2007. Taylor, Charles: Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity. Cambridge, MA 1989. Treitel, Adele: Avatars of the Soul: Cultures of Science, Medicine, and the Occult in Modern Germany. Dissertation, Harvard University, 1999. Treitel, Corinna: A Science for the Soul: Occultism and the Genesis of the German Modern. Baltimore 2004. Van der Haven, Alexander: The Other Zarathustra: Madness, Schreber and the Making of Religion in 19th Century Germany. Dissertation, University of Chicago Divinity School, 2009. Van der Haven, Alexander: Eine Erlöserin mit Schnurrbart: Daniel Paul Schrebers religiöse Offenbarungen, in: Iris Edelheiser (ed.): Von Aposteln bis Zionisten: Religiöse Kultur im Leipzig des Kaiserreichs. Marburg 2010, pp. 177– 184. Van der Haven, Alexander: The War and Transcendental Order: Critique of Violence in Benjamin, Canetti and Daniel Paul Schreber,” in: Tel Aviver Jahrbuch für deutsche Geschichte 43/2015, pp. 115–144. BEYOND THE MODERN SELF 99 Van der Haven, Alexander: God as Hypothesis: Daniel Paul Schreber and the Study of Religion, in: Steffen Führding (ed.): Method and Theory in the Study of Religion: Working Papers from Hannover. Supplements to Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 8. Leiden, 2017, 176–198. Wollny, F.: In Sachen der Hypnose und Suggestion: Ein Vademecum für Herrn Professor Wundt. Leipzig 1893. Wundt, Wilhelm Max: Hypnotismus und Suggestion. Leipzig 1892. ALEXANDER VAN DER HAVEN100

Chapter Preview



Der Sammelband widmet sich dem „religiösen Wahnsinn“, wie er insbesondere in den Jahrzehnten um das Jahr 1900 gesellschaftlich und diagnostisch etabliert und verhandelt wurde. Die Herausgeber gehen davon aus, dass Fälle „religiösen Wahnsinns“ bisher vorwiegend aus psychologischer Perspektive bearbeitet und als Beispiele pathologischer Erkrankungen beschrieben wurden. Eine interdisziplinäre Betrachtung des Themas soll hingegen die Schnittstellen zwischen Religion, Medizin, Psychologie und Gesellschaft sowie deren dynamische Grenzverschiebungen bzw. diskursive Verwobenheit hervorheben. Die Beiträge legen daher den Fokus einerseits auf konkrete Einzelbeispiele jenseits der in der Literatur bekannten und prominenten „Psychofälle“ und diskutieren andererseits systematische Fragen zur gegenseitigen Konstituierung von religiösen Sinnsystemen, zeitgenössischen Krisenrhetoriken sowie „wissenschaftlicher“ und „pseudowissenschaftlicher“ Diagnostik und Therapie. Ein besonderes Interesse liegt zudem auf dem Diskurs über „religiöse und psychische Devianz“, der nicht allein die Pathologisierung „religiösen Wahnsinns“ ermöglichte, sondern gleichsam der Selbstermächtigung des religiösen Subjekts und dessen Befreiung aus den gesellschaftlichen Zwängen der Moderne Vorschub leistete. Eine zentrale These ist dabei, dass solche „Anormalitätsdiskurse“ und deren breite Rezeption in Wissenschaft, Kunst und Religion den gesellschaftlichen und individuellen Umgang mit den Ambivalenzen und Chancen der Moderne widerspiegeln und dies insbesondere am Beispiel des „religiösen Wahnsinns“ zu Tage tritt.