analyzes these memoirs in lieu of Schreber himself, a situation inverted and parodied
in Pale Fire by the poet's sanity and the interpreter's mental distress.
While The Case of Dr. Schreber is significant in relation to Pale Fire, the
novel has deeper resonances with From the History of an Infantile Neurosis, arguably
the most complex and influential of Freud's case histories. Beset by the "twisted re-
of maverick psychoanalysts Carl Jung and Alfred Adler,
Freud attempts here to prove conclusively the causal link between early childhood
experience and neurosis, presenting his analysis of an adult patient later dubbed "the
Jung and Adler had been claiming that adult neurotics invent childhood
traumas to resist addressing the real, contemporary sources of their illness, so Freud
tasks himself here with irrefutably demonstrating that such a "primal scene" did
indeed affect the patient's childhood. At the heart of Freud's account is the
interpretation of a dream the patient had at age four immediately preceding the onset
of his childhood neurosis, an ominous vision of bushy-tailed wolves staring through
his window from the branches of a tree. The dream, Freud argues, encodes the
patient's repressed memory of his parents having sex, the primal scene whose
historical fact decides the debate in favor of psychoanalytic orthodoxy.
Though Freud wrote the case history in 1914-15, World War I prevented him
from publishing it until 1918. Sometime during these intervening years, he returned
to his text, adding two bracketed passages to the original manuscript. In these
interpolations to an otherwise unaltered account, Freud startlingly questions the
On the level of biography, it is worth acknowledging the similarities between the backgrounds of Nabokov and Sergei Pankejeff (aka "the Wolf-Man"): both were born near the turn of the century to aristocratic Russian families, had fathers active in liberal politics, were raised on opulent country estates, and were exiled as poor young men to Europe in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution.