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or catatonic syndrome, a mental disorder dominated by impairment of motor activity.
Catatonia is a syndrome in schizophrenia and in psychoses resulting from poisoning, infection, or organic brain lesions. There are two alternating phases: stupor and excitement. In catatonic stupor, the tone of the skeletal muscles increases to the point where the patient remains frozen in any position, however uncomfortable, in which he is placed (catalepsy). The rigidity may reach the extremes of muscular tension: stupor with the extremities drawn close to the abdomen and the head bent, that is, the fetal position. The facial expression is frozen and the patient remains completely mute. External stimuli (for example, pain) or even extraordinary circumstances (fire, earthquake) do not prompt the patient to protect himself. Any attempt to change the position of a person in a deep stupor will induce muscular resistance.
Catatonic excitement may be bizarre and pathetic (the patients behave foolishly, ranting, singing, and striking affected poses) or impulsive, frantic, and aggressive. The mind of catatonics may stay clear or become clouded. Catatonia is relieved through the treatment of the causative disease.