Stupor is the lack of critical cognitive function and a level of consciousness wherein a sufferer is almost entirely unresponsive and only responds to base stimuli such as pain. A person is also rigid and mute and only appears to be conscious as the eyes are open and follow surrounding objects. The word derives from the Latin stupor, meaning insensible. Being characterised by impairments of reactions to external stimuli, it usually appears in infectious diseases, complicated toxic states, severe hypothermia, mental illnesses (e.g. schizophrenia, severe clinical depression), vascular illnesses (e.g. hypertensive encephalopathy), shock (e.g. learning of a death or surviving a car accident), neoplasms (e.g. brain tumors), vitamin D deficiency and so on.
If not stimulated externally, a patient with stupor will be in a sleepy state most of the time. In some extreme cases of severe depressive disorders the patient can become motionless, lose their appetite and become mute. Short periods of restricted responsivity can be achieved by intense stimulation (e.g. pain, bright light, loud noise, shock).
Localization of brain lesions
Lesions of the Ascending Reticular Activation System on height of the pons and metencephalon have been shown to cause stupor. The incidence is higher after left-sided lesions.
- ^ a b Gelder, M, Mayou, R. and Geddes, J. 2005. Psychiatry. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford.
- ^ Berrios G E (1981) Stupor: A Conceptual History. Psychological Medicine 11: 677-688
- ^ Berrios G E (1981) Stupor Revisited. Comprehensive Psychiatry 22: 466-478