I have been thinking about a world where there have been incredible advancements in biotechnology. Genetic engineering, advanced bionics and, of course, the long-time human tradition of finding new and innovative ways to kill each other. One of these, is Mechs.

Mechs are useful for more than fighting, they're very useful in construction and farming, really anywhere where heavy lifting and long endurance tasks are required and the regular engineering of humans (be it genetic or machined) simply wont cut it. They have even found uses in space applications, like station maintenance or personal short distance transport. Think of them like Fallout power armor, Halo's spartan armor, or Javelins from Anthem, pictured below.

Javelin From Anthem

Of course, these kinds of tools are very useful with military applications. Mostly mercenaries who want to take on very risky and expensive contracts and missions and have the money to be fitted like a walking tank, but they have a lot of use cases in professional militaries too.

There is a massive problem with them, however. There is a strange medical condition that affects users of these mechs that seemingly has no root cause and is not at all understood. It tends to happen with more advanced mechs with more systems (such as more weapons and active defence systems)

Its a condition where people in the mechs start to believe they ARE the mech and are not humans driving them, believing themselves to be sentient AI or something. Users are nearly always incredibly paranoid about being disassembled or tampered with, and will usually fight anyone attempting to remove them from the mech or even get close due to the fear of being EMP'd or sneakily opened up. The condition is treatable simply by removing the person in the mech (simply might not be the best word for it, as they will be actively resisting this), and has no side effects after the fact other than being shaken up and potentially injured from the fight to remove them from the mech.

Currently IRL we have a lot of terms to describe all kinds of psychological issues. This would probably be called a "Persecutory delusional disorder" (people with this disorder IRL believe someone is attempting to harm them) but how would we specify that it is both acute and caused by using a mech?

What would the most medically accurate term be for describing this condition?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Names are arbitrary things. Naming diseases is no different. They can be named after the cause, the symptoms, the discoverer, or pretty much anything else. Each would be just as medically accurate. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Nov 17 at 16:21
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The main objection I have to this is that most delusions, and most disorders of the body schema, are nowhere near as easily treatable as you describe. Conditions of this sort may take years of careful therapy to make even modest progress, or may be impervious to conventional treatment. You can't "just" explain things or show the patient their error - if it was that easy, it wouldn't be classified as a medical condition in the first place. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Nov 17 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Kevin Most disorders of the body schema don't involve sci-fi prosthetic mecha bodies. $\endgroup$
    – wizzwizz4
    Nov 17 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ Might mechanomania work? $\endgroup$ Nov 18 at 21:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I was the last close voter. Asking to name something is off-topic as such questions never have an entirely objective "best answer." AKA, they're always opinion-based (brainstorming). Case in point: god complex, napoleon complex, king/queen complex.... all names for the same psychiatric condition differentiated only by the obsessive choice/tendency/predilection of the patient. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Nov 19 at 20:01

3 Answers 3


While I do support Monty Wild's clean and concise solution, I do want to suggest a catchy title:

Mechanophrenia, or to have the mind of a machine, could be the term used for those humans who believe themselves to be integrated parts of their tech. Note the Greek roots - mekhane from 'engine' and phrenia from phrḗn, 'mind'.

You won't miss the connection from another disorder popularized from media - schizophrenia. In fact it could well be that whoever named this new disorder explicitly wanted to quote on something already studied by the medical community.

This double link might also be used to explain how those affected seem to ignore some basic fact about their biology - e.g. the need for sleep, food, and other nasty biological imperatives.

Edit: Integrated AlexP's suggestion and switched to mechanophrenia from mechaphrenia.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ That would be of course mechanophrenia. (Because the combining form of mechanê is mechano-.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 17 at 9:31
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Noted; integrated into the answer. $\endgroup$
    – Liquid
    Nov 17 at 9:39
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ As it isn't worth writing my own answer for, I'd offer paraphrenia as a more specific basis for your term, eg. "mechanoparaphrenia", following the example of existing stuff like "somatoparaphrenia". Paraphrenia involves hallucinations and persecutory delusions, which fits well with the OP's request. $\endgroup$ Nov 17 at 19:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think all of the other answers were good, I think this one fits the best. The link to schizophrenia would make it easy to call-out a victim to warn others nearby. "He has mechanophrenia!" would be a good, quick way to warn people in the area to back away from the afflicted as to not get in their way and be mistaken for someone hostile, even if people don't know exactly what the term means, alot of people can probably see the connection. Not to mention @Starfish Prime comment if I need a more accurate term in a situation where urgency isn't as important as being accurate to the definition. $\endgroup$
    – Chuck
    Nov 18 at 22:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Liquid it would become known a mechanoparaphrenia or MPP, and people with it might then be called Muppets. $\endgroup$
    – LSerni
    Nov 19 at 18:55

Trivially, this is termed a Delusional Disorder. Medical terminology has no allowance for making catchy titles for these disorders, even if they become common.

However, disorders may also be named after the individual who first described them as something unique or becoming common. If this disorder can be shown to be something other than a common delusion, perhaps caused by use of a brain-machine interface, it may attract such a name.

For example, if I was to describe such a disorder and link it to the use of mecha, it may become known as Wild's Syndrome or Wild's Disorder or something of the sort. If I was being modest (which doctors describing such things rarely are), I might call it a Mechanical Identity Delusion. Obviously, your setting's history and personalities will differ, and you'd have to pick a name yourself.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "Monty's Malady" sounds catchy $\endgroup$ Nov 17 at 22:36

This would seem to be allied to Prothesis Embodiment. This is the mental process whereby someone who has (say) lost a limb, coordinates themselves with a prosthetic limb. When they wake, they may feel sensations in the missing limb. The prosthesis feels like a foreign object. But with practice, the wearer can add the prosthesis to their self-image: they can move a think as though the prosthetic is part of them.

The same occurs to some extent if you drive a car. To begin with you handle the controls consciously. Later, many of the parts of driving are moved to the unconscious: the car is in effect acting as a large prosthetic. If they drove into another car, they might say "I hit them!" rather than "My car hit their car". The same embodiment happens when you become good at a musical instrument.

It is possible for someone to think they have left their own body. People with Cotard's syndrome believe they are 'dead' or 'empty'. They can even try to commit suicide, feeling that this would somehow 'put things right'. It would be reasonable to extend this to someone who drives a titanic mechanical body to think they have left their own body and become the machine. The person without the machine is 'dead'.

I think some of the Warhammer Titan short stories deal with this sort of thing.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .