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an oppressive mental disorder characterized by extreme indecisiveness and timidity and a tendency to fixed ideas. The disease was described in 1903 by the French physician P. Janet, who believed that the lowered capacity for perceiving reality characteristic of the disease results in constant doubt, vacillation, and concentration on imaginary dangers. According to I. P. Pavlov, psychasthenia is caused by the weakness of the subcortex and the first signaling system and the predominance of the second signaling system. The term “psychasthenia” is used in modern medicine to denote either some form of psychopathy or an obsessional neurosis in psychopathic personalities.

Psychasthenic individuals are noted for their anxiety, mistrust, shyness, and concern with details. Their initiative is low, although they have a strong sense of duty. They often have tormenting doubts regarding the correctness of their decisions and fear they will be unable to discharge their obligations. Their lack of self-confidence makes them repeatedly verify their actions; for example, a psychasthenic may repeatedly check whether he has turned off the gas or actually placed the letter into the mailbox. An imaginary danger is more frightening than a real one. The mental capacity of psychasthenics is not impaired and may be high; for example, pronounced symptoms of psychasthenia were observed in E. Zola at the height of his literary career.

Psychotherapy is the chief means of treating psychasthenia. Occupational therapy and psychotropic drugs are also used.


Gannushkin, P. B. Klinika psikhopatii: Ikh statika, dinamika, sistematika. Moscow, 1933.
Ozeretskovskii, D. S. Naviazchivye sostoianiia. Moscow, 1950.
Davidenkov, S. N. Nevrozy. Leningrad, 1963.
Kerbikov, O. V. “K ucheniiu o dinamike psikhopatii.” Izbr. trudy. Moscow, 1971. Pages 163–87.
Sviadoshch, A. M. Nevrozy i ikh lechenie, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1971.
Janet, P. Les Obsessions el la psychasthenie, 3rd ed, vols. 1–2. Paris,1911–19.


References in periodicals archive ?
Relevant literature suggests that MMPI-2 content scales Depression (DEP) and Anxiety (ANX) (Chisholm, Crowther, & Ben-Porath, 1997), clinical scales Depression (D), Psychopathic Deviate (Pd), and Psychasthenia (Pt) (Shepherd, 1997), and validity scale Infrequency (F) (Shepherd, 1997) to have some relation to treatment outcome.
Also, each of the four anxiety components independently and significantly predicted MI: psychasthenia (odds ratio, 1.
Those included measures for psychasthenia and social introversion, as well as scores from the Wiggins phobia scale and the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale.
Only one clinical scale in the HTAG, Scale 7, Psychasthenia (Pt), was above the clinical level considered significantly high (t-score of 65); this was true for both males and females.
Psychasthenia (c) 10 series 2, by the same artist, places the viewer within a dark circular curtain in front of a series of projected images of urban tower blocks at night.
Client outcome measures included residual change scores on the Depression, Psychasthenia, and Social Introversion scales of the MMPI and self-ratings on an 11-point global improvement scale ranging from "much worse" to "much better.
For example, the commonly used Minnesota Multi-Phobic Personality Inventory (MIVIPI) test of personality, which consists of 500 true and false questions, with responses that are scored in terms of scales: hypochondria, depression, hysteria, psychopathic deviate, masculinity-femininity, paranoia, psychasthenia, schizophrenia, and hypomania
Use of the MMPI can show "personality traits [which] include the following symptoms or conditions: hypochondriasis, depression, hysteria, psychopathic deviate, masculinity-femininity, paranoia, psychasthenia, schizophrenia, hypomania, and social introversion.