Oneirophrenia

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Oneirophrenia (from the Greek words "ὄνειρος" (oneiros, "dream") and "φρενός" (phrenos, "mind")) is a hallucinatory, dream-like state caused by several conditions such as prolonged sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, or drugs (such as ibogaine). It has some of the characteristics of simple schizophrenia, such as a confusional state and clouding of consciousness, but without presenting the dissociative symptoms which are typical of that disorder.

Persons affected by oneirophrenia have a feeling of dream-like derealization which, in its extreme form, may progress to delusions and hallucinations. Therefore, it is considered a schizophrenia-like acute form of psychosis which remits in about 60% of cases within a period of two years. It is estimated that 50% or more of schizophrenic patients present oneirophrenia at least once.

Oneirophrenic patients are resistant to insulin and when injected with glucose, these patients take 30 to 50% longer to return to normal glycemia. The meaning of this finding is not known, but it has been hypothesized that it may be due to an insulin antagonist present in the blood during psychosis.

Oneirophrenia was studied in the 1950s by the neurologist and psychiatrist Ladislas J. Meduna (1896–1964), also known as the discoverer of one of the forms of shock therapy, using the drug metrazol.

Psychoanalysts, such as Claudio Naranjo, in the sixties have described the value of ibogaine-induced oneirophrenia for inducing and manipulating free fantasy and dream-like associations in patients under treatment.

Although it is still cited in diagnostic manuals of psychiatry, such as DSM-IV and in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), oneirophrenia as a separate entity is out of fashion nowadays.

References[edit]

  • Meduna LJ: Oneirophrenia: The Confusional State. Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1950.
  • Naranjo, C. (1969). "Psychotherapeutic possibilities of new fantasy-enhancing drugs." Clinical Toxicology 2(2):209
  • Piotr Popik and Stanley D. Glick: The Ibogaine Dossier