Shock Head Soul is partly a documentary looking at the life and experiences of a patient in a mental institution at the end of the 1800s and partly an analysis of the work he created. The patient was Daniel Paul Schreber was a judge In Germany who had several breaks from reality, but it was his second that he documented in a journal that later became Memoirs of my Nervous Illness. This book has gone on to be celebrated as possibly the greatest self-documentation of mental illness, studied by many in psychoanalysis and psychiatry, including Freud.
Schreber’s story is represented mostly through a strong dramatisation of events which is extremely creative and, at times, quite beautiful. This is interrupted throughout by interviews with current experts discussing the implications of Scheber’s experiences and his documentation.
It’s an unusual documentary that I can image some people may struggle to appreciate, but I really enjoyed the way it was presented.