‘It is always better to produce an interesting disease than a mediocre painting’ (1988: 540): with this proposition, as with so many others from the lectures he delivered to patients at his Marienhöhe clinic in Baden-Baden between 1916 and 1919, Georg Groddeck rejoiced in provocation. In 1918 he had no qualms in naming the sanatorium’s new house magazine Satanarium, in explicit homage to Hell as the only place where, it seemed to him, a man could scream his agony ‘unimpeded, without shame or reserve’ (1992: 15). Nor should we imagine that in invoking Hell he had in mind the metaphorical ‘hell’ of WWI – which some of his patients would have experienced first-hand – rather than a more literal Hell with the full complement of damning moral connotations. The hellish agonies that the Satanarium was to vent were first and foremost those of ordinary patients, whom Groddeck encouraged to experiment with regarding their illness as expiation for their criminal desires. They, the patients, might disagree with this or other similar pronouncements. But they must make an effort not to disagree. As he put it:

You must make an effort to believe, you must silence all doubts in yourselves. It makes no sense to refute what I say through reasonable arguments. It is easy to find this or that false, but that is not the point of the exercise. You have come here to be helped. What I deliver is a remedy, a medication.

(1987: 95) In his medical version of a re-evaluation of all values, Groddeck thus staged a joyous obliviousness to the modern settlement, the one whereby disease and illness have become equally divorced from questions of aesthetic appreciation as from the metaphysics of evil and sin. His provocations playfully unhinged and reshuffled the customary relations between these conceptual frames, and in so doing they worked their healing magic. By all accounts, he was much loved and highly sought-after as a doctor, known for his ‘astonishing success with patients suffering from chronic symptoms long since abandoned as non-curable by others’ (M.C., 1951: 6).