Variations From Normal Mental Processes (continued)

Hyperesthesia is abnormal sensitiveness to stimulation.

Anesthesia is loss, either temporary or permanent, of any of the


Perversion is morbid alteration of function which may occur in

emotional, intellectual, or volitional fields.

Example: The odor of a rose causing an acute sense of physical pain.

An illusion is a false interpretation of a perception.

The normal mind is quite subject to illusions, either due to a faulty

sense organ, or to a preconceived state of mind which so strongly

expects or presages something else than reality as to misinterpret what

the senses bring.

Examples: The crooked stick as a snake.

A ghost created from shadow.

An ordinary ringing in the ears as sleigh-bells.

Milk tasting like blood.

An hallucination is a perception without an object.

The hallucinated individual projects, as it were, the things of his

mind's creation into the outer world, and accepts them as reality. He

sees snakes where there is nothing to suggest them; sees a ghost where

there is no shadow; believes that the taste of blood is constantly in

his mouth.

There are possible hallucinations of every sense. Nonexistent objects

are seen, touched, tasted, heard, or smelled.

Hypochondriasis is a state characterized by persistent ideas of

non-existent physical disabilities.

The hypochondriac has every known symptom of indigestion, or of heart

disease, or is threatened with tuberculosis--all in his mind; and

whatever the disorder he seizes upon, his attention hovers there, while

the ideas of that particular disability persist and strengthen.

A flight of ideas is an abnormal rapidity of the stream of thought.

Every perception so immediately is linked with some association of

experience that expression is swift and often incoherent. One word will

follow another with amazing rapidity, words suggested by sound

association, usually, rather than by that of meaning.

Example: "Made a rhyme, had a dime, did a crime, got the time, bring

some lime." This association by rhyme is quite common. But the

associations of meaning are not uncommon.

Example: "Made a rhyme. Mary was a poet. Mary had a little lamb. Where's

Mary?--Mary!--No Jim--Jim, all my children--calling, calling, calling,"


A fixed idea is one which morbidly stays in the mind and cannot be

changed by reason.

Example: In hypochondriasis, as given above.

Ideogenous pains are either pains born of an erroneous idea, or mental

reproductions of pains now having no physical cause.

A suggestible person, learning that his grandfather died of an organic

heart, conceives the idea that he has inherited the trouble, and begins

to suffer cardiac pains; and as long as the idea persists the pain is


Compulsive ideas are ideas which intrude, recur, and persist despite

reason and will.

Example: The compulsive idea of contamination may lead its victim to

wash and rewash his hands at every contact with matter, until finally,

though they are raw and sore, he is incapable of resisting the act.

Disorientation is a state of mental confusion as to time, place, or


Amnesia is pathologic forgetfulness.

Example: As sometimes found in the infection-exhaustion psychoses, when

the entire past of the patient may be wiped out for the time. Cases of

permanent amnesia are known.

Aphasia is a defect in the interpretation or production of language.

There may be motor aphasia, auditory aphasia, vocal aphasia, sight

aphasia; and with disability to produce words, they may yet be

recognized when seen; or when they can be spoken they may not be

recognized when heard; or with inability to speak them, they are

accurately sensed by hearing; or though understood when heard, they are

incomprehensible when read.

A delusion is a false belief which cannot be corrected by reason.

A somatic delusion is one centering upon alterations in the organs or

their functions.

Example: Absence of a stomach, inability to swallow.

A nihilistic delusion is one which denies existence in whole or part.

Example: Mother denies the existence of her child.

A delusion of reference is one in which the deluded individual

believes himself an object of written, spoken, or implied comment.

Example: The actors on the stage are directing their remarks directly

against the victim in the box.

A shut-in personality is one that habitually responds inadequately to

normal social appeal.

Sense of unreality is one of the commonest psychic alterations through

which customary sensation states are displaced by unnatural and usually

distressing ones.

Examples: The breakfast table appears undefinably altered.

Laughter is accompanied by strange, rather than by normal,


Morbid inhibition is an abnormal, negative activity of the will.

Sometimes a patient will try pitifully to express some thought or

feeling; the desire to explain is there, but will is blocked in action.

Or the patient attempts to dress, makes repeated new beginnings, but

cannot succeed. We say, "He is inhibited."

An obsession is an idea which morbidly dominates the mind, constantly

suggesting irrational action.

Obsessed patients may consistently step in such a way as to avoid the

juncture of the flagstones on the pavement; may insist on removing their

shoes in church; may hail each person met on the street and tap him on

the arm; may refuse to ever leave the house without an open umbrella; or

may try to attack every man they see, not because they want to hurt or

kill, but because they are obsessed to the performance of the action.

A tic is a useless, habitual spasm of a muscle imitating a once

purposeful action.

Motor tics, such as habitual jerking of the arms, shrugging the

shoulder, contorting the face, shaking or nodding the head, snapping the

fingers, etc., are very common among nervous children, and even in many

otherwise normal grown-ups.

Distractibility is an abnormal variation of attention.

The common inability of the hypomanic patient to hold his attention to

any subject when another is open, is very like the distractibility of

the child who turns to every new interest as it is presented.

Negativism is a state of persistent compulsion to contrary response to


It is with these patients as though not only initiative were lost but

also the power to follow another's lead. But their independence asserts

itself in opposing every suggestion and in acting so far as possible

contrary to it.

Mutism, as used in psychiatry, is an abnormal inhibition to speech.

Patients sometimes speak no word in many months. To all appearance they

are true mutes. Then suddenly something may remove the mental blockade

and they talk.

Compulsive acts are acts contrary to reason, which the will cannot


A seemingly quite normal patient will sometimes grab a vase from a stand

in passing, and dash it to the floor. Something "urged" him to do it,

and he could not resist. Others will tear their clothes to shreds, not

in anger, but because they "could not help it."

Psychomotor overactivity is abnormal activity of both mind and body,

contrary to reason and uncontrolled by will.

Psychomotor retardation is an underactivity of both mind and body in

which consciousness is dulled and the body sluggish.

A neurosis is a disorder of the nerves, which may be functional or


Nervousness is properly termed a psychoneurosis--for we have

learned that there can be no neurosis without an accompanying psychosis.

Psychosis is the technical synonym for insanity.

Borderland disorders constitute a group in which mental perversions do

not yet so dominate reactions as to make them irrational.

Twilight is neither night nor day; the feelings of the hysteric are not

insane, but the actions may be.

Insanity is a prolonged departure from the individual's normal

standard of thinking, feeling, and acting.

Mania is insane excitement.

Melancholia is the inability of the mind to react to any stimulus with

other than gloom and depression.

Melancholia may be of the intellectual type or of the emotional type.

The patient who tells you constantly that he has murdered all his

children, that he is a criminal beyond the power of God to redeem, who

seems chained to his delusions, yet shows no adequate feeling reaction,

no genuine sorrow, we call a case of the intellectual type of

melancholia. Another patient misinterprets every normal reason for

happiness until it becomes a cause of settled foreboding. The mother,

whose son fought safely through the war and is now returning to her,

feels that his coming forecasts calamity for him. He had better have

died in France. She is of the emotional type of melancholia.

Hysteria is a nervous disorder based upon suggestibility, and capable

of imitating most known diseases.

Insane impulses are morbid demands for reckless action beyond the

control of the will.

Example: The impulse to kill, quite regardless of who may be the victim.

Psychopathic personality is a term much used today to designate an

hereditary tendency on the part of the individual to mental disorder.

The neuropath is the individual with an inborn tendency to the


Neurotic is a term broadly employed for the nervous in whom emotions

predominate over reason.

Neurasthenia is a nervous disorder characterized by undue


Psychasthenia is a nervous disorder characterized by a sense of

unreality, weakness of will, self-accusation, and usually by phobias and

obsessions, all subject to temporary correction by reason or influence

from without.

Hypochondriasis is a disorder characterized by morbid attention to

bodily sensations, and insistent ideas of bodily disorder.

Phobia is a morbid fear or dread.


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