Viktor Tausk: On the Origin of the “Influencing Machine” in Schizophrenia (1919/1933)

22 October 2012, dusan

“On the Origin of the ‘Influencing Machine’ in Schizophrenia is a highly influential article written by psychoanalyst Viktor Tausk.

The 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”.

These 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.” (from Wikipedia)

Originally published in the journal Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, 1919.
Translated from German by Dorian Feigenbaum
Published in Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 2, 1933, pp 519-556
Republished in Journal of Psychotherapy Practice and Research, Vol 1, No 2, Spring 1992, pp 184-206
Image courtesy Zoe Beloff

artwork by Zoe Beloff inspired by the case (2001)
animated video by Brooke Gladstone and Benjamin Arthur explaining the case (2011)
article by Christopher Turner (Cabinet, 2004)



Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind