Mutism


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mutism

[′myü‚tiz·əm]
(medicine)
Inability or refusal to speak.

Mutism

 

the inability or refusal to speak that takes place in the absence of any organic lesions of the vocal apparatus. Occurring mainly in shy, timid, physically weak children, mutism results from a reaction to a traumatic mental stimulus such as fright, insult, conflict, or excessive demand. Mutism is also found in patients suffering from schizophrenia and hysteria. Hysterical mutism is usually complete, that is, the patient does not utter a single word; he does not maintain oral contact but communicates by writing. The ability to speak disappears suddenly and returns just as unexpectedly. Voluntary mutism is common in children: the child does not answer questions in school but talks normally at home and in the street. Sometimes he does not answer the questions of one teacher but does respond normally to others.

Mutism is temporary but varies in duration. It sometimes continues for years, in which case it causes mental retardation. Treatment involves the elimination of factors that traumatize the nervous system; treatment of the disease that caused the mutism; use of general restorative measures; and psychotherapy. Preventive measures include strengthening of the child’s nervous system and a proper upbringing that encourages independence, activity, and sociability.

Surdimutism—the functional impairment of hearing and speech—is a special form of the condition. Unlike deaf mutism, which is caused by the permanent organic impairment of hearing, surdimutism is temporary. It is generally observed in wartime as one of the symptoms of contusion. Speech and hearing in surdimutism are usually quickly restored by disinhibition therapy. Sometimes surdimutism can be corrected without any special treatment. In a few cases the disease becomes protracted and requires the coordinated attention of neurologists, otorhinolaryngologists, speech therapists, and specialists in the teaching of deaf-mutes.

L. V. NEIMAN

References in periodicals archive ?
Selective mutism is a complex anxiety disorder characterized by a child's inability to speak and communicate effectively in select social settings, such as the school.
In "Finding Voice: Treating Selective Mutism and Social Anxiety" Professor Schum shares his years of experience and expertise in helping children, their families, and their teachers.
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Rivers offers a tentative psychological explanation for mutism and how its occurrence is class-inflected: "Mutism seems to spring from a conflict between wanting to say something, and knowing that if you do say it the consequences will be disastrous.
Selective mutism affects one in 150 children, is more common in girls, and most primary schools will know of at least one child with it.
Although lasting complications of corpus callosotomy are very rare on this type of epilepsy surgery, it is known that impaired language skills, calossum mutism (temporary loss of speech) and damage to the frontal lobe due to the procedure that may lead to changes in behavior are risks to be considered during the surgical act.
For the past four years, Isla has suffered with selective mutism, a growing and devastating anxiety-based mental health disorder.
Conclusion: Predominantly the patients presented with mutism (dissociative motor disorder).
Last, inviolate mutism is emblematic in Duchamp's found objects.
Selective mutism (SM) is a disorder that occurs in childhood and is characterized by an inability to speak in certain settings, such as school, or in public places, as opposed to speaking at home with family members.