Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lexicon of Madness -- Hypervigilance

Hypervigilance: A psychiatric symptom of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or paranoia. May also be seen in survivors of childhood abuse or neglect. The patient constantly scans his environment for signs of threat. The energy expended in this effort is disproportionate to the actual level of threat. A recently returned veteran examines the people around him at a shopping mall for signs that they might be carrying a concealed firearm or wearing a suicide bomb vest. In a restaurant he might always sit against a wall, facing the front entrance, so that he can scruntinize entering patrons. Hypervigilant behaviors may have been adaptive (i.e., promoted survival) under combat conditions, but cause dysfunction in civilian life.

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