Schain, Richard J. 1930-

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SCHAIN, Richard J. 1930-


Born October 16, 1930, in New York, NY; son of Maurice and Beatrice (Gaier) Schain; married, 1952; married Melanie Dreisbach, August 15, 1980; children: two. Education: New York University, A.B., 1950, M.D., 1954.


Home—Box 517, Glen Ellen, CA 95442. E-mail—[email protected].


Yale University School of Medicine, resident in pediatrics, 1957-59; University of Nebraska, assistant professor to associate professor of neurology and psychiatry, 1962-66; University of CaliforniaLos Angeles, associate professor of pediatrics, 1967-77, professor of pediatrics, neurology, and psychiatry, 1977-80, adjunct professor of pediatrics, neurology, and psychiatry, 1980—; neurological consultant at a California state hospital, 1980—. Military service: U.S. Air Force, 1955-57, captain.


American Academy of Neurology, American Association for Mental Deficiency, American Academy of Pediatrics, Society for Research in Child Development, Society for Pediatric Research.


Fellowships in neurology, 1959-60, 1961-62, fellowship in physiology and pharmacology, 1960-61, National Institute for Medical Research, London, England.


The Neurology of Childhood Learning Disorders, Williams & Wilkins (Baltimore, MD), 1972, 2nd edition, 1977.

Affirmations of Reality, Garric Press (Glen Ellen, CA), 1982.

Philosophical Artwork and Other Writings, Garric Press (Glen Ellen, CA), 1983.

Sententiae, Garric Press (Glen Ellen, CA), 1984.

A Fanatic of the Mind, Garric Press (Glen Ellen, CA), 1987.

Souls Exist, Garric Press (Berkeley, CA), 1989.

The Legend of Nietzsche's Syphilis, Contributions in Medical Studies, no. 46, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2001.

Radical Metaphysics, self-published through Xlibris (Olde City, PA), 2003.


A professor of child neurology, pediatrics, and psychiatry, Richard J. Schain wrote his first book, The Neurology of Childhood Learning Disorders, in the early 1970s. He was the first child neurologist to write about the subject of minimal brain dysfunction (MBD)—or specific learning disability (SLD)—syndrome and related neurocognitive developmental disorders. His book received praise from R. D. Becker, in the Journal of Learning Disabilities, as an "important and instructive little volume" on the subject of "the inner-conflicted cognitive, affective, experiential, intersensory and neurological realities" of children who appear to have MBD, which, says Schain, is a clinical diagnosis that is widely abused. Schain discusses the many diagnostic terms that have come in and out of vogue to describe the same set of learning, perceptual, visual, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. He stresses the importance of using systematic approaches to the complicated issue of diagnosis, acknowledging the existence of neuropathologic disorders that can mimic MBD in early stages. Schain gives clinical descriptions of such degenerative pediatric problems as Huntington's Chorea, Wilson's Disease, Speilmeyer-Vogt Disease, and Friedreich's Ataxia in his book. According to Becker, Schain's volume is "a lucid, systematic, and cogently instructive view of an increasingly important area of clinical pediatric and neurological concern."

Schain's book, The Legend of Nietzsche's Syphilis, is an assessment of the great German philosopher's life from a neurological and psychological viewpoint. Schain strives to put to rest the legend that Nietzsche's degenerative mental disorder was the result of general paresis, or syphilis of the brain. Doctors diagnosed him with the advanced stages of syphilis, and commentary was that he had acquired the sexually transmitted disease while in college. However, Schain contends that Nietzsche's lifelong symptoms actually point toward a manic-depressive psychosis that later developed into chronic schizophrenia. Nietzsche sustained a nervous breakdown at age forty-four and died at age fifty-six after his condition slowly deteriorated to paralysis. Schain finds that the philosopher's childhood illnesses, the slow progression of his disease, and the absence of certain neurological symptoms common to late-stage syphilis indicate that syphilis was not the cause of his illness and death.

In a review of The Legend of Nietzsche's Syphilis for the Times Literary Supplement, Brian Leiter called Schain's theory plausible and noted that he "makes a compelling case" for it. "Indeed," Leiter wrote, "Schain must surely be right that the 'lucid and vigorous thought content … and usual masterful prose' of Nietzsche's last work, Ecce Homo, is simply not compatible with syphilitic damage to the brain." G. Eknoyan, reviewing the book for Choice, called it "an informed and insightful summary account" of Nietzsche's illness and suffering.



American Men & Women of Science, 12th, 13th, 15th, and 16th editions, Gale (Detroit, MI).


Choice, March, 2002, G. Eknoyan, review of The Legend of Nietzsche's Syphilis, p. 1272.

Journal of Learning Disabilities, May, 1975, R. D. Becker, review of The Neurology of Childhood Learning Disorders, pp. 70-71.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 2001, review of The Legend of Nietzsche's Syphilis, p. 239.

Times Literary Supplement, October 18, 2002, Brian Leiter, "The Fate of Genius" (review of The Legend of Nietzsche's Syphilis and others), pp. 12-13.


Radical Metaphysics of Richard Schain, (September 25, 2003).*