Victor Kandinsky

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Victor Kandinsky in 1880

Victor Khrisanfovich Kandinsky (Russian: Виктор Хрисанфович Кандинский) (1849, Byankino, Siberia – 1889) was a Russian psychiatrist, and was 2nd cousin to famed artist Wassily Kandinsky.[1] He was born in Siberia into a large family of extremely wealthy businessmen.[2]

In 1877 as a military physician in the Balkans during the Russo-Turkish War, he began experiencing mood swings and hallucinations. Kandinsky performed self-diagnosis, and he referred to his mental condition as Primäre Verrücktheit (primary paranoid psychosis)[3] which has been anachronistically translated into modern terms as a "schizophrenic-like state".[4] In 1885 Kandinsky published a book written in German on "pseudohallucinations" in which he describes and details hallucinations largely based on his personal experiences.[4] In September 1889, feeling that his psychotic symptoms were returning, he took his own life by taking an overdose of morphine.[2] He died as a patient in the institution he had formerly run as the medical superintendent, the St. Nicholas Asylum in St. Petersburg.[4]

In a monograph "About pseudohallucinations" (Russian: "О псевдогаллюцинациях") published posthumously in 1890, Kandinsky described a condition which involved being alienated from one's personal mental processes, combined with delusions of being physically and mentally influenced by external forces. The syndrome he described is now known as Kandinsky-Clérambault syndrome, named along with French psychiatrist Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault. The syndrome also known as syndrome of mental automatism.

Kandinsky's main contributions to psychiatry were in such areas as psychiatric classification, psychopathology and forensic psychiatry. He created a system with 16 diagnostic categories of mental disorders.


  1. ^ [1]. Kandinsky family tree, 6th generation. (In Russian). Access date 2011-09-14
  2. ^ a b Lerner, Vladimir; Witztum, Eliezer (2006). "Victor Kandinsky, M.D., 1849–1889". American Journal of Psychiatry. 163 (2). doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.163.2.209. 
  3. ^ Scharfetter, Christian (1983). "Schizophrenia". In Zangwill, O. L.; Shepherd, Michael. General psychopathology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 44. ISBN 0-521-23649-5. 
  4. ^ a b c Berrios, German E. (1996). The history of mental symptoms: descriptive psychopathology since the nineteenth century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 55. ISBN 0-521-43135-2. 

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