Catatonia, in its modern
conceptualisation, has an unusual and interesting history dating
back to the 19th century. For much of its existence it was thought
of as a subtype of schizophrenia and it has only relatively
recently been understood as a diagnostic entity in itself.
Perhaps in part due to this history, but also
because of its sparse featuring in training curricula and in
psychiatric literature until very recently, it is still poorly
recognised and, as a result, not treated by most clinicians. Its
diagnosis is important because it can be successfully
treated; when left untreated, it can lead to serious medical
complications and even death.
Catatonia is relatively common among a diverse
range of psychiatric, neurological and general medical conditions,
and so it should be of interest to psychiatrists working in any