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Edward Shorter

and Max Fink

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date: 05 March 2021

Catatonia is a syndrome that is identifiable, verifiable, and eminently treatable, unlike other disorders in the roster of psychiatric diseases. Catatonia is not a form of “schizophrenia,” and, although it may “piggyback” on other diseases, it is also a disease in its own right. Today, catatonia is often not recognized; clinicians and the public are more familiar with the term as a subtype of “schizophrenia.” Failure to diagnose it is very common. This introduction documents the earliest descriptions of the disorder and its treatment and gives a brief history of the acceptance of the term “catatonia” by the psychiatric discipline. The authors emphasize the importance of recognizing the symptoms of catatonia and appreciating how straightforward its treatment is. Proper recognition is important because catatonia may be life-threatening, so diagnosing and treating it properly are matters of importance.

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