Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Music Composition

Degree Program


Committee Chair

Rouse, Steve

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Wolek, Krzysztof

Committee Member

Wolek, Krzysztof

Committee Member

Lloyd, Kimcherie

Author's Keywords

schizophrenia; opera; music, daniel paul schreber; orchestra; mental illness


In 1884, Daniel Paul Schreber was admitted into an asylum in an attempt to help treat his paranoid schizophrenia. He documented his time in the asylum through a memoir titled Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. His memoir noted the extremely poor living conditions and treatment of patients, while also illustrating Schreber’s slowly deteriorating mental state. Prior to his admittance, Schreber was a well respected judge in Germany and the son of a renown child psychologist. This societal decline contributed to the acceptance of these memoirs as a serious account of the events that transpired on a daily basis for mental health patients and this acceptance ignited a push towards improving these unsuitable facilities. Asylum is an oratorio depicting Schreber’s time in the asylum as well as his deteriorating state interpreted through hallucinated view of his relationships with his wife (Sabine), his doctor (Flechsig), and his deceased father. All three of these pivotal relationships and their potential contributions to Schreber’s affliction have been repeatedly analyzed by famous psychologists through the lens of Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. Asylum takes the perspective of Henry Zvi Dothan’s who argues in In Defense of Schreber that Schreber’s schizophrenia was not necessarily caused by these relationships, rather his mental illness was a manifestation of his need to process complex and unresolved emotions.

Included in

Composition Commons