Andras Angyal  (1950) “The Psychodynamic Process of Illness and Recovery in a Case of Catatonic Schizophrenia,” Psychiatry. 13:149-165. (Link)

This paper is based on a young man’s retrospective narrative of the course of a catatonic schizophrenic episode. As Angyal notes, his recovery was largely spontaneous, occurring within a relatively benign hospital environment, and did not involve the use of antipsychotic medication (Thorazine, the first drug developed specifically to control psychosis, was synthesized in the year of this article’s publication, 1950). Angyal conceives of his role largely as helping the patient consolidate some aspects of his “discoveries;” his approach to understanding the episode as a contorted “solution to a problem” is, of course, strikingly at odds with the organic illness model currently ascendant in psychiatry.

French, T.M. and Kasanin, J (1941). “A Psychodynamic Study of the Recovery of Two Schizophrenic Cases,” Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 10:1-22. (Link)

The authors present two accounts of recovery from schizophrenia. As with Angyal, they emphasize how the course of the illness reflects a unfolding struggle to resolve emotional conflict.

Victor Tausk (1933) “On the Origin of the “Influencing Machine” in Schizophrenia,”Psychoanalytic Quarterly. 2:519-556. (Link)

Originally published in 1919, this remarkable paper offers both a detailed description of the development of a schizophrenic state in a young woman and Tausk’s prescient attempt to understand it. In particular, Tausk’s efforts to define projective dynamics, and his rendering of a form of narcissistic collapse characterized by progressive mechanistic rendering of a projected self-representation, stand out as an early effort to interpret a schizophrenic state. Like Angyal, Tausk is in part motivated by his sense that “clinical psychiatry, interested only in general descriptions, lays no stress upon the significance of individual symptoms for the study of the dynamics of psychoses.” Despite its phallocentric emphases, characteristic of that era, it is a useful exploration of the torments associated with alienated strivings.