Akinetic Mutism

Akinetic Mutism

  • First described by Cairns et al. (1941)
  • Patient tend not to move (akinetic) or speak (mute)
  • Show Apathy
  • Their eyes usually fixate on and follow objects
  • They usually do respond to repeated auditory commands
  • Their level of alertness otherwise is normal (although can have hypersomnolence)
  • The symptoms are rather experienced as a lack of will to do anything
  • If they ‘will’ to do something and opposing ‘will’ develops to counteract it
  • It is one of the diagnostic criteria for creutzfeldt-jakob disease
  • Two anatomical types of Akinetic Mutism (AM) are described:
    • Apathetic AM (also known as Mesencephalic AM)
    • Hyperpathic AM (also known as Frontal AM)


Reference and Resources:

Lishman’s Organic Psychiatry Fourth Edition
Otto A, Zerr I, Lantsch M, et al Akinetic mutism as a classification criterion for the diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 1998;64:524-528.
Medscape, Wikipedia


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