SPK Collection

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SPK Collection


SPK [Socialist Patient Collective] Collection

The SPK (Sozialistisches Patientenkollektiv) was an organization that formed at the Psychiatric Clinic at the university of Heidelberg in 1970. Under the direction of radical psychiatrist Dr. Wolfgang Huber, SPK advocated an amalgamation of non-hierarchical psychiatry and revolutionary Marxism.

The most famous of the SPK publications, Turn illness into a Weapon promoted a radical restructuring of the ideas of sickness and health. Believing, as Sartre states in the introduction, that “illness is…the only way (form) of life in capitalism,” they sought to prove that those labeled ill by society had in their illness both the cumulative effects of capitalism as well as healthy responses to an unjust system. Thus, the plight of the mentally ill became for the SPK the fulcrum of a critique of society and the means of control employed by the medical establishment.

The SPKs idiosyncratic views on mental illness, however, was too much for even some in their milieu of leftist militancy. In fact, upon its appearance, Turn Illness into a Weapon was attacked by Ulrike Meinhof of the RAF, who said of Huber, “You were always crazy, but now you have gone completely insane, no, still worse, you have betrayed communism…no worker would read that [the book], nobody could understand it. You are forbidden to drag the party into your filth and I never want to hear the name of Rosa Luxemburg in one of your filthy mouths, for it was her who wrote ‘truth is simple.’”

Despite its critique by radicals such as Meinhof, however, it was embraced and praised by intellectuals like Sartre who argued “because capitalism produces illness in everybody, and because ‘psychiatric healing’ only means re-integration of sick people into society…collectives have to struggle to the aim to bring illness to its whole evolution, that means to bring it up to that point where disease becomes a revolutionary power by means of becoming jointly aware by consciousness.” Or, as SPK put it: “Let’s bury the silly hope for health!...there must be no therapeutic act which has not been previously clearly and uniquely shown to be a revolutionary act.”

The radical philosophy of Huber and the SPK eventually led to Huber's removal from Heidelberg university as well as the jailing of several members. Linked continually (perhaps erroneously) to more explicitly leftist militant groups like the RAF, they were persecuted throughout their existence. Though short-lived in its first incarnation (officially disbanding in 1971) different recrudescences of the group exist into the present. This collection of SPK material includes Turn Illness into a Weapon in several editions, including its first in German as well as in translation. It also includes much of the groups self-documentation, as well as the documentation and reflection on the original group by its descendent groups from the 1970s to the present. It also includes groups like the Australian industrial band SPK, who drew inspiration from the 1970s radical group.


Dokumentation zum Sozialistischen Patientenkollektiv Heidelberg


Heidelberg: Giessen, 1971. Stapled in orange wrappers with binding tape. 126pp. Good. Cover has a large dog-ear to bottom corner, slight black stain.

Presents documentation relating formation of the SPK and subsequent incarnation of the SPK, Patientenkollektiv, using original documents, such as the correspondence between Dr. Huber and the administration of Heidelberg University, which would eventually expel Huber, both dissolving the relationship between Huber and the themselves and fermenting a phase of sit-ins and protests at the university run by SPK. (2 copies, the second, slightly faded, though in very good condition).


SPK Heidelberg Dokumentation Teil 2 (Oktober 1970 – August 1971)

(5 copies, including 1971 edition (first), 1972, 1982, 1987)


Heidelberg: Krrim, 1980,

Giessen publisher crossed out and stamped with Krrim stamp. In orange wraps. Very good with very mild shelf wear, and bumping to corners. Further documentation and articles on and by the SPK in regards to their philosophy and praxis.


Aus der Krankheit eine Waffe Machen [Make Illness a Weapon]

Heidelberg: Trikonte Verlag, 1972. First Edition. Very good in wrappers, with mild edgewear. 8vo. 136pp. Mild stain from price sticker to back wrapper. Mild foxing to the fore-edge, and first half of book.

The 1972 printing (first edition) of the SPK’s most famous work. A groundbreaking book in the history of the German radical left, as well as a seminal book in the anti-psychiatry/alternative psychiatry movement.


SPK Dokumentation Teil 3


Heidelberg: Trikont Verlag, 1977. 8vo. 222pp. Mild bumping and rubbing to orange wraps, otherwise good. Cover starting in second copy.

Includes articles on the Patientenfront’s 1975 hunger strike begun by Wolfgang Huber in prison, the philosophies of Marx and Sartre, the dialectic of sexuality, angst, and more.


SPK Dokumentation Teil 3


Heidelberg: Trikont Verlag, 1977. 4to, landscape. 222pp. Mild bumping and rubbing to orange wraps, otherwise good.

Includes articles on the Patientenfront’s 1975 hunger strike begun by Wolfgang Huber in prison, the philosophies of Marx and Sartre, the dialectic of sexuality, angst, and more.


Aus der Krankheit eine Waffe Mache (Make Illness a Weapon) (in german)

Heidelberg: Krrim, 1987. Very good in orange wrapers, with mild edgewear. 8vo. 144pp. The 1987 edition of the SPK’s most famous work, Make Illness a Weapon, which includes the preface by Jean-Paul Sartre. Pricemarked in pencil on the flyleaf.


Kleinkrieg Gegen Patienten: Dokumentation zur Verfolgung des Sozialistischen Patientenkollektiv

Heidelberg: Krrim, 1987. 4to. 176 pp. Bumping and rubbing to the wraps, including some small closed tears. First copy: very good, second: good.

Documentation of the SPK including a chronology, the reaction of the press to the actions of the SPK, the reactions of the staff of Heidelberg University, the theory of the SPK, and more. Short foreword by Wolfgang Huber.


Patientenfront (SPK 4)


Heidelberg: Krrim, 1990. In orange wraps. 8vo. Good with barcode sticker to spine and staining to front wrap. A book SPK theory with a wide selection of articles dealing with the Patientfront’s later philosophy of illness, as well as their concepts of Iatrokasie, Iatrokratie, and Iatrarchie, art and revolution, the concept of solitary confinement, and more.


Über das Anfangen: Zur Vorgeschichte des Sozialistischen Patientenkollektiv (1970) und der Patientenfront (1973)


Heidelberg: Krrim, 1993. In orange wraps. Irregular size: (4 ¼ by 5 ¾). 168 pp. Very good.

Includes an interview between Andere Stimme and Wolfgang Huber regarding the SPK in part one. Part two deals with Patientenfront.


SPK: Turn Illness into a Weapon

By SPK with a preface by Jean-Paul Sartre

Heidelberg: Krrim, 1993. Condition: very good. 8vo. 215pp. In orange wraps. Mild stain on back wraps.

The most famous of the SPK’s (Social Patient Collective) publication, Turn illness into a Weapon sought to prove that those labeled ill by society had in fact the effects of the capitalist system. Turn Illness into a Weapon is the SPKs most sustained critique of the concept of health and their attempt to transmute the dispossession and pain of sickness into complete revolution.


SPK: Krankheit im Recht. 1. SPK/PF (H) Socialist Patient’ Collective Patients’ Front 2. Post-industrial Band SPK.

By Trevor Blake

Heidelberg: KRRIM, 1995. First edition printed specially for London International Bookfair. In Blue wraps. Very Good, with slight bumping to corners. Price in pencil on flyleaf. 8vo. 159 pp.

Part 1 contains a history, timeline, and exposition on the theses and beliefs of both SPK and the later incarnation of the group, Patientenfronten. Includes texts from Turn Illness into a Weapon, as well several texts never before translated into English. Part two deals with the Australian industrial band SPK, began as the collaboration of psychiatric nurse, Graeme Revell, and a patient, Neil Hill, who were both influenced by the philosophy of situationism, anarchism, and the SPK, as well as punk rock, john cage, and bands like neu!, faust, and Can. Their music was eventually released on industrial records. Includes a short history of the band as well as interview digressions into their own writings and theories.


Utopathie Vorweg: A: Zunkunftsmusik, B: Gattungsgegenwart

By the SPK

Heidelberg: Krrim, 1996. 8vo. 111 pp. Very good in orange wraps


SPK Indeed: What the SPK Really Did and Said.

Krrim, 2007. Condition: Near fine. First edition. 12mo. 372 pp.

Wolfgang Huber answers questions posed to him by Trevor Blake, an American writer; expounds on the history of the SPK, patientenfronten, and shares reminiscences as well as digressions into theory, politics, and the nature of illness and health.


Festchrift: 25 Jahre SPK/PF(H), 60 Jahre Huber, 10 Jahre Krankheit im Recht

By Patientenfront

Festschrift for the 25 year anniversary of the SPK, the 60 birthday of Dr. Wolfgang Huber, and the ten year birthday of “Krankheit im Recht.” Includes timeline, articles, and poems.


Anonymous Typescript regarding the entwined theory and practice of SPK and RAF

[author unknown]

[city, publisher, and date unknown], stapled 8 x 13 in. copy of typewritten hand corrected manuscript. Condition: good with some mild stains commensurate with age.

Details the founding and theories of the RAF and SPK, contrasting the formation and philosophies of these groups, as well as their association and the, at times, porous borders between the two groups.

Note: Due to size and weight of collection additional postage may be required.

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