Reactive Psychosis

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Reactive Psychosis


(also situation psychosis), a temporary impairment of mental activity attributable to a severe stress. Reactive psychoses and neuroses together constitute a special group of mental diseases called psychogenic disorders.

Several forms of reactive psychoses are distinguished. Affective-shock psychoses are linked to a powerful affect and are most often observed in mass catastrophes, such as earthquakes and shipwrecks. They can be manifested either by disorderly motor excitement or marked inhibition and are associated with turbulent autonomic disturbances. Twilight states are characterized by disorientation in time and place and fragmentary perception of the environment. They are sometimes marked by purposeful motor excitement or inhibition and false sensory perceptions, such as illusions and hallucinations. The patient’s behavior sometimes becomes absurd and intentionally senseless (pseudodementia). Depressive reactions occurring after psychic traumas, which may depress even healthy persons, are much deeper and more prolonged than normal reactions. The patient’s thoughts are constantly focused on what has happened. The patient becomes disinclined to movement and speaks quietly and curtly. There are also delirious reactive psychoses, which are manifested by a delusion of persecution and expectation of death.

Reactive psychoses are most often observed in persons with psychopathic constitutions, after severe somatic diseases, during puberty, and in the climacteric. They are treated by psychotropic agents and psychotherapy.


Kantorovich, N. V. Psikhogenii. Tashkent, 1967.
Felinskaia, N. I. Reaktivnye sostoianiia ν sudebno-psikhiatricheskoi klinike. Moscow, 1968.
Ivanov, F. I. Reaktivnye psikhozy ν voennoe vremia. Leningrad, 1970.
Reichardt, M. Die psychogenen Reaktionen. Berlin, 1932.


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Colman (7) established for Lear a diagnosis of brief reactive psychosis with a background of organic mental disorder, perhaps of a vascular origin, exemplified by the king's visual hallucinations and an intimation of a stroke just before Lear's death, since "he asks for help to undo one of his buttons.
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