psychosis

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psychosis

psychosis (sīkōˈsĭs), in psychiatry, a broad category of mental disorder encompassing the most serious emotional disturbances, often rendering the individual incapable of staying in contact with reality. Until recently, the term was used in contrast with neurosis, which denoted the “mild” mental disorders which did not interfere significantly with the ability to function normally, or severely impair the individual's conception of reality. In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association made sweeping changes in its classificatory system for psychological disorders, and the opposition between neurosis and psychosis became obsolete. The former classification included functional psychoses including schizophrenia, paranoia, bipolar disorder, and involutional psychotic reactions, where no brain change was detectable with available tools. Today, there are separate categories for schizophrenic disorders, mood disorders (which include bipolar disorder and major depression), and other serious mental disturbances such as delusional disorder. Symptoms of these disorders may include hallucinations and delusions; severe deviations of mood (depression and mania); lack of, or inappropriateness of, emotional response; and severe impairment of judgment. Another type of psychosis involves brief episodes, characterized by an acute onset lasting no longer than a month, usually resulting from situational circumstances such as an earthquake or flood. Nonspecified psychotic disorders include psychotic symptoms, e.g., delusions, hallucinations, or disorganized behavior, that cannot be classified in any other disorder. Drug therapy and electroconvulsive therapy have been successful in the treatment of many patients with serious psychological disorders. Organic psychoses, so called because of the structural deterioration of the brain, include senile dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Occurring in middle to old age, these disorders involve progressive, nonreversible brain damage. Organic brain damage may also result from toxic reactions to such substances as alcohol, PCP, amphetamines, and crack cocaine. In criminal law, the term insanity can be applied to most forms of psychoses, although defenses based on insanity have been relatively rare.
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Psychosis

Any disorder of higher mental processes of such severity that judgments pertaining to the reality of external events are significantly impaired. A wide range of conditions can bring about a psychotic state. They include schizophrenia, mania, depression, ingestion of drugs, withdrawal from drugs, liver or kidney failure, endocrine disorders, metabolic disorders, and Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, and other neurologic dysfunctions. The dreams of normal sleep are a form of psychosis.

Psychotic alterations of beliefs are called delusions. Psychotic alterations of perception are referred to as hallucinations. Psychotic states that are due to alcoholism, metabolic diseases, or other medical conditions are frequently accompanied by general mental confusion. On the other hand, psychiatric illnesses and drugs can produce hallucinations and delusions in the absence of general confusion. Few of those symptoms are unique to a particular illness, which can make proper diagnosis difficult and challenging. Correct diagnosis, however, is critical so that appropriate treatment can be provided. See Addictive disorders, Affective disorders, Alzheimer's disease, Paranoia, Schizophrenia

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Bioscience. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

psychosis

severe mental illness in which the chief symptom is a distorted perception of reality. These distortions may include delusions and hallucinations, speech may be incoherent or inappropriate, there may be hyperactivity or complete social withdrawal. A wide variety of manifestations are evident but these are grouped generally under the terms schizophrenia and manic-depression. See also LAING, ANTI-PSYCHIATRY.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000

psychosis

[sī′kō·səs]
(psychology)
An impairment of mental functioning to the extent that it interferes grossly with an individual's ability to meet the ordinary demands of life, characterized generally by severe affective disturbance, profound introspection, and withdrawal from reality, formation of delusions or hallucinations, and regression presenting the appearance of personality disintegration.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

psychosis

any form of severe mental disorder in which the individual's contact with reality becomes highly distorted
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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