- 1. A behavior that is performed without conscious knowledge and that does not appear to be under conscious control. This curious type of behavior occurs in a number of neurological and psychiatric disorders. The neurologic disorders associated with automatisms include narcolepsy (the sudden recurrent uncontrollable compulsion to sleep) and some forms of epilepsy (such as psychomotor epilepsy). The psychiatric conditions associated with automatisms include schizophrenia (catatonic type) and fugue (flight) states. Automatisms involve doing something "automatically" and not remembering afterwards how one did it or even that one did it. Automatisms are also called automatic behavior.
2. Unconscious movements associated with temporal lobe (complex partial) epilepsy. Automatisms may resemble simple repetitive tics, or may be complex sequences of natural-looking movements.
* * *1. The state of being independent of the will or of central innervation; applicable, for example, to the heart's action. 2. An epileptic attack consisting of stereotyped psychic, sensory, or motor phenomena carried out in a state of impaired consciousness and of which the individual usually has no knowledge. 3. A condition in which an individual is consciously or unconsciously, but involuntarily, compelled to the performance of certain motor or verbal acts, often purposeless and sometimes foolish or harmful. SYN: telergy. [G. automatos, self-moving, + -in]- ambulatory a. a person's automatic performance of an action or series of actions without being consciously aware of the processes involved in the performance.- immediate posttraumatic a. a posttraumatic state in which the patient performs automatically without immediate or later memory of that behavior.
* * *au·tom·a·tism ȯ-'täm-ə-.tiz-əm n1) an automatic action esp any action performed without the doer's intention or awareness2) the power or fact of moving or functioning without conscious control either independently of external stimulation (as in the beating of the heart) or more or less directly under the influence of external stimuli (as in the dilating or contracting of the pupil of the eye)
* * *n.behaviour that may be associated with epilepsy, in which the patient performs well-organized movements or tasks while unaware of doing so. The movements may be simple and repetitive, such as hand clapping and lip smacking, or they may be so complex as to mimic a person's normal conscious activities.
* * *au·tom·a·tism (aw-tomґə-tiz-əm) [Gr. automatismos self-action] aimless and apparently undirected behavior that is not under conscious control and is performed without conscious knowledge; seen in psychomotor epilepsy, catatonic schizophrenia, dissociative fugue, and other conditions. Called also automatic behavior.
Medical dictionary. 2011.