The inability or unwillingness to speak. A person who is mute cannot or does not care to talk. Someone who was mute was said to be dumb, not in the sense of being stupid, but in the sense of being devoid of the power of speech. The term "mutism" is specifically applied to people who, due to profound congenital (or early) deafness, are unable to use articulate language and so are affected by deaf-mutism. The word "mutism' comes from the Latin "mutus" meaning unable to speak.
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1. The state of being silent. 2. Organic or functional absence of the faculty of speech. [L. mutus, mute]
- akinetic m. subacute or chronic state of altered consciousness, in which the patient appears alert intermittently, but is not responsive, although his/her descending motor pathways appear intact; due to lesions of various cerebral structures. SYN: coma vigil.
- elective m. m. due to psychogenic causes. SYN: voluntary m..
- voluntary m. SYN: elective m..

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mut·ism 'myüt-.iz-əm n the condition of being mute whether from physical, functional, or psychological cause

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inability or refusal to speak; dumbness. Innate speechlessness most commonly occurs in those who have been totally deaf since birth (deaf-mutism). Inability to speak may result from brain damage (see aphasia). It may also be caused by depression or psychological trauma, in which case the patient either does not speak at all or speaks only to particular persons or in particular situations. This latter condition is called elective mutism.
Treatment of mutism due to psychological causes is now increasingly by behavioural means, such as prompting: people that the patient does not address are slowly introduced into the situation where the patient does speak. This may be done either alone or in combination with more traditional psychotherapy.
mute adj. n.

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mu·tism (muґtiz-əm) the condition of being mute; called also aphonia.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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