The Schizoid Man (The Prisoner)

"The Schizoid Man" is an episode of the allegorical British science fiction TV series, The Prisoner. It was written by Terence Feely, directed by Pat Jackson and was the seventh produced. It was the fifth episode to be aired in the UK on ITV (ATV Midlands and Grampian) on Friday 27 October 1967 and was first broadcast in the United States on CBS on Saturday 6 July 1968.[1][2]

"The Schizoid Man"
The Prisoner episode
Episode no.Series 1
Episode 5
Directed byPat Jackson
Written byTerence Feely
Production code7
Original air date27 October 1967
Guest appearance(s)

The episode stars Patrick McGoohan as Number Six and features as Number Two, Anton Rodgers.[3] The central theme of the episode deals with the psychology of identity.

Plot summary

As the episode begins, Number Six is assisting Number Twenty-four ("Alison"), a telepathic young woman, in practising mind reading with Zener cards. In an extremely complex plot of bluff and double bluff, Number Two brings a lookalike of Number Six, referred to as "Number Twelve", to The Village. Number Twelve (also played by McGoohan, apart from a few shots with a double) is an agent of The Village who happens to bear a very strong resemblance to Number Six.

The real Number Six is subjected to an intensive course of aversion therapy, altering his tastes and instincts, and training him to do everything left-handed. He is drugged to wipe his memory of the treatment. When he awakes, he is treated as "Number Twelve", while the lookalike assumes the role of Number Six. The real Number Six is informed by Number Two of the plan to break "Number Six" (the impostor) by convincing him that he is not Number Six at all.

Six and Twelve engage in various challenges to prove which is the real Number Six; the aversion therapy allows the impostor to behave more like Number Six than the real one does. In the presence of Number Two and Number Six, Number Twelve is challenged to demonstrate that his fingerprints are Number Six's. They are. He also has his characteristic left wrist mole, which Number Six has lost. Finally, Number Twenty-four is summoned because she supposedly has a unique "mental bond" with the real Number Six, but they fail a test with the Zener cards.

Just as he appears to be "breaking", the real Number Six mentally overcomes his brainwashing when he discovers a bruise on his fingernail that he got when Number Twenty-four tried to get his picture  a bruise that, furthermore, has migrated from the base of his fingernail to midway, confirming that days or weeks have passed, not the single day shown on his calendar. He then gives himself an electric shock to reverse the therapy. He also physically overcomes the impostor, who reveals his name as Curtis. After being forced to reveal his password and remove the fake mole from his wrist, Curtis escapes and is then mistakenly killed by Rover.

Pretending to be Curtis, Number Six reports to Number Two that "Number Six is dead". Having "failed", he is to return to report failure. He is put blindfolded onto the helicopter to leave The Village. He believes himself to have duped Number Two into letting him escape, but the helicopter promptly returns to The Village. Number Two reveals that he deduced the truth when Number Six agreed to give his regards to Number Twelve's wife, who is deceased.



  • The Schizoid Man is the only episode in which Rover is mentioned by name.


  1. Pixley, Andrew (2007). The Prisoner: A Complete Production Guide. Network Distributing. p. 153.
  2. "The Schizoid Man". Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  3. Davies, Steven Paul (2007). The Prisoner Handbook. Pan. p. 90. ISBN 978-0-230-53028-7.


  • Fairclough, Robert (ed.). The Prisoner: The Original Scripts. vol. 1. foreword by Lewis Greifer. Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 978-1-903111-76-5. OCLC 61145235. – script of episode
Last produced:
"Once Upon a Time"
The Prisoner episodes Next produced:
"It's Your Funeral"
Last transmitted:
"Free for All"
Next transmitted:
"The General"
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