Scared Stiff: Catatonia as an evolutionary-based fear response.

Andrew Moskowitz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    104 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Catatonia, long viewed as a motor disorder, may be better understood as a fear response, akin to the animal defense strategy tonic immobility (after G. G. Gallup & J. D. Maser, 1977). This proposal, consistent with K. L. Kahlbauln's (1874/1973) original conception, is based on similarities between catatonia and tonic immobility ("death feint") as well as evidence that catatonia is associated with anxiety and agitated depression and responds dramatically to benzodiazepines. It is argued that catatonia originally derived from ancestral encounters with carnivores whose predatory instincts were triggered by movement but is now inappropriately expressed in very different modern threat situations. Found in a wide range of psychiatric and serious medical conditions, catatonia may represent a common "end state" response to feelings of imminent doom and can serve as a template to understand other psychiatric disorders.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)984-1002
    Number of pages18
    JournalPsychological Review
    Volume111
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

    Keywords

    • NEUROLEPTIC MALIGNANT SYNDROME
    • VENTROLATERAL PERIAQUEDUCTAL GRAY
    • POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER
    • CEREBRAL-BLOOD-FLOW
    • TOP-DOWN MODULATION
    • GABA-A RECEPTORS
    • TONIC IMMOBILITY
    • LETHAL CATATONIA
    • ELECTROCONVULSIVE-THERAPY
    • BIPOLAR DISORDER

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