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
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
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
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
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
Hypochondriasis is a disorder characterized by morbid attention to
bodily sensations, and insistent ideas of bodily disorder.
Phobia is a morbid fear or dread.
FACTORS CAUSING VARIATIONS FROM NORMAL MENTAL PROCESSES