Archive for October 24th, 2013

October 24, 2013

Influencing Machine

On the Origin of the “Influencing Machine” in Schizophrenia is a highly influential article written by German psychoanalyst Viktor Tausk in 1919.┬áThe paper describes Tausk’s observations and psychoanalytic interpretation of a type of paranoid delusion that occurs in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. The delusion often involves their being influenced by a ‘diabolical machine,’ just outside the technical understanding of the victim, that influences them from afar.

It was typically believed to be operated by a group of people who were persecuting the individual, whom Tausk suggested were ‘to the best of my knowledge, almost exclusively of the male sex’ and the persecutors, ‘predominantly physicians by whom the patient has been treated.’┬áThese delusions are known in contemporary psychiatry as ‘passivity delusions’ or ‘passivity phenomena’ and are listed among Kurt Schneider’s ‘first rank’ symptoms which are thought to be particularly diagnostic of schizophrenia, and still form some of the core diagnostic criteria.

read more »