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Neurosis or Psychoneurosis Meaning

It is a type of functional mental disorder characterised by distress but not by delusions or hallucinations, and by behaviour that does not deviate from socially acceptable norms. It's also referred to as psychoneurosis or neurotic disorder. 

The term is no longer used by the professional psychiatric community in the United States; it was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) with the publication of DSM III in 1980. It is, however, still used in ICD-10 Chapter V F40–48.

Neurosis should not be confused with psychosis, which is characterised by a loss of touch with reality. It should also not be confused with neuroticism, a fundamental personality trait proposed in the Big Five theory of personality traits.

Neurosis Examples

Common Behaviour - You are concerned about completing a large project at work on time.

Neurotic Behaviour - You obsess over the deadline and lament, "I'll never get this done!" despite the fact that it isn't due for months and you have little else to do.

Common Behaviour - You like to arrive at the airport two hours before your flight.

Neurotic Behaviour - You insist on arriving 4 hours early, and when you check in with the gate agent every 10 minutes to see if the flight is on time.

What are Neurosis Symptoms?

Neurosis is simply defined as "a poor ability to adapt to one's environment, an inability to change one's life patterns, and an inability to develop a richer, more complex, and more satisfying personality." There are numerous types of neurosis, including:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

  • Impulse control disorder

  • Anxiety disorder

  • Hysteria

  • a great variety of phobias

Among the Mental Neurosis Symptoms are:

  1. Extreme fatigue to chronic fatigue syndrome;

  2. Sleep apnea, nightmares

  3. Irritability (one of the stimuli could be a cause of neurosis);

  4. Anxiety, anxiety, suspicion, and fear are all present.

  5. Inability to respond appropriately to everyday stresses (minor squabbles, misunderstandings, delayed transportation, bad weather, a push from a bystander, etc.);

  6. Emotional lability (inability to control emotions, rapid shifts between opposite emotions);

  7. Fixing the attention on the stimulus (normally, a person tries to move away from the stimulus, eliminate it, or isolate it; in the case of a neurosis, the stimulus only draws attention, it is constantly discussed, and all thoughts about it are discussed);

  8. Cognitive impairment (memory loss, learning ability); 

  9. social adaptation violation (communication with others, fear of new acquaintances);

  10. Self-esteem is low.

The Symptoms of Various Organ Systems (vegetative, Somatic Symptoms) are an Unavoidable Component of the Clinical Picture of Neurosis:

  1. Headache, dizziness, tinnitus, gait and balance disturbances;

  2. Increased heart rate, aching pain behind the sternum ("aching heart"), blood pressure fluctuations, and rhythm disturbances;

  3. Shortness of breath, shallow breathing, and a lump in the throat are all symptoms of a lack of oxygen.

  4. Pain in the abdomen, bloating, a shaky stool, and a loss of appetite;

  5. Sweating, trembling, pain with no discernible source, and weakness;

  6. The genitourinary system is dysfunctional.

The main distinction between neurotic disorder symptoms and mental illness symptoms is the reversibility of the clinical picture, the absence of psychotic symptoms (delirium, hallucinations), and personality changes.

Jungian Theory: Carl Jung found his approach to be especially effective for patients who are socially well adjusted but are troubled by existential questions. Jung claims to have often seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or incorrect answers to life's questions.

Jung discovered that an individual's inferior psychological function, whether it is thinking, feeling, sensation, or intuition, is where the unconscious expresses itself the most. In his Psychological Types, he discusses the typical effects of neurosis on the dominant and inferior functions.

Psychoanalytic Theory: Neuroses, according to psychoanalytic theory, may be rooted in ego defence mechanisms; however, the two concepts are not synonymous. Defence mechanisms are a natural way for people to develop and maintain a consistent sense of self (i.e., an ego). However, only thoughts and behaviours that cause problems in one's life should be labelled as neuroses.

A neurotic person experiences emotional distress and unconscious conflict, which manifests in a variety of physical or mental illnesses, with anxiety being the most prominent symptom. Neurotic tendencies are common, manifesting as acute or chronic anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobia, or personality disorder.

Horney's Theory: Karen Horney's final book, Neurosis and Human Growth, lays out a comprehensive theory of the origins and dynamics of neurosis. Neurosis, according to her theory, is a distorted way of viewing the world and oneself that is determined by compulsive needs rather than a genuine interest in the world as it is. Horney proposes that neurosis is passed down to a child from his or her early environment and that this can happen in a variety of ways.

Causes of Neurosis

In modern science, two components are considered among the causes of the development of neurosis: psychogenic and biological.

The inability to adequately respond to external stimuli, which causes stress, is one of the psychogenic causes of neurotic disorders. The first reason for an inadequate reaction could be a low-stress tolerance, as well as high susceptibility to even those things that do not cause a pathological reaction from the psyche in stronger people. Dripping water from a faucet, for example, can cause severe irritability in some people, while others simply do not notice these sounds. As a result, the former has a much higher proclivity and risk of developing a neurosis. It is impossible to discuss the presence of such a person in psychopathology because it is a personality trait, a character caused by a hereditary, genetic or acquired (as a result of upbringing or social environment) factor.

The second cause of psychogenic neurosis is a strong external stimulus that even people with a "strong psyche" find difficult to cope with. Chronic stress at work (professional failures, interpersonal relationships, management bias), conflicts at home, domestic problems, health problems, loss of loved ones, financial problems, and so on are examples of such irritants. Overwork, a lack of adequate rest, and an inability to relax all increase the risk of neurosis.

The biological cause of neurotic disorders is a disruption in the metabolism of neurotransmitters, hormones, vitamins, and other biologically active substances that are essential for the normal functioning of the central nervous system and, in particular, higher nervous activity. This reason cannot be considered separately from psychogenic neurosis because, in the end, it all comes down to impaired brain neuron function; however, what is the primary factor in pathological changes in nerve cells is considered to be the primary cause of neurotic disorder.

Types of Neurosis

Scientists and researchers have disagreed on the exact cause of neurosis. Neurosis is usually a symptom of a mental illness. However, there are various types of neuroses, each with its own set of causes. There are the following types of neurosis:

  1. Anxiety neurosis

  2. Depressive neurosis

  3. Obsessive-compulsive neurosis

  4. Somatization, formerly known as hysterical neurosis

  5. Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as war or combat neurosis

  6. Compensation neurosis

Neurotic Disorders List

  • Generalized anxiety disorder.

  • Depression.

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder.

  • Social phobia.

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder.

  • Panic disorder.

  • Antisocial personality disorder.

Neurosis Treatment

Antidepressants are frequently used to treat neurosis or anxiety disorder. The four major classes of antidepressants are as follows:

  1. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

  2. Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

  3. Benzodiazepines 

  4. Tricyclic Antidepressants

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How is Neurosis Diagnosed?

Ans: Neurosis is currently not diagnosed by medical professionals. Symptoms resembling neurosis are now classified as depressive disorders or anxiety by psychologists and psychiatrists. Some psychoanalysts, however, continue to use the term.

2. Is Neurosis Inheritable?

Ans: Neuroticism, like height and intelligence, is a heritable trait. According to twin and family estimates, genetic effects account for approximately 48% of phenotypic variance.