A condition marked by changes in muscle tone or activity associated with a large number of serious mental and physical illnesses. There are two distinct sets of symptoms that are characteristic of this condition. In catatonic stupor the individual experiences a deficit of motor (movement) activity that can render him/her motionless. Catatonic excitement, or excessive movement, is associated with violent behavior directed toward oneself or others.
A variety of symptoms are associated with catatonia. Among the more common are echopraxia (imitation of the gestures of others) and echolalia (parrot-like repetition of words spoken by others). Other signs and symptoms include violence directed toward him/herself, the assumption of inappropriate posture, selective mutism, negativism, facial grimaces, and animal-like noises. Catatonic stupor is marked by immobility and a behavior known as cerea flexibilitas (waxy flexibility) in which the individual can be made to assume bizarre (and sometimes painful) postures that they will maintain for extended periods of time.