Catatonia- Can the Person Recognize It?
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Q:  Can someone recognize whether he, himself, or she, herself,  has had a catatonic episode, or is having an episode only recognizable by someone else who witnesses it?

Dear Kerry -- 
I've never asked that question directly of people whom I've treated who had "catatonia" -- in quotes because this is a phenomenon, not a diagnosis, and it's a blurry phenomenon at that.  People can have varying degrees of what doctors would call "motor slowing", meaning "not moving very much".  If severe, people basically don't move at all when they have this complication of bipolar disorder.  

And yet people have described to me what they saw and heard during that time, and it's clear from the folks I talked to that they were completely aware of what was going on, perhaps even more aware than average in some ways.  So, by extension, thinking of what several of these people said, I would expect that looking back on it, yes, they would be able to recognize that what was going on then was "catatonia".  But their recognition of this state at the time?  I'd have to ask that one specifically. 

Reading over your question, I'll bet there's some underlying issue that goes beyond this particular question, so may I add:  please don't take this answer out of this context and use it in another -- it could be very misleading.  Just a caution. 

Dr. Phelps

Published February, 2004


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