Labile Affect

By Renée Grinnell

Pathological emotional expression, generally due to neurological degeneration or other complications; may or may not be mood-congruent. In other words, the patient might sob uncontrollably in an only moderately sad situation (an excessive but mood-congruent reaction), or he or she might also cry when upset or angry (a mood-incongruent reaction). Labile affect is also known as pseudobulbar affect, emotional incontinence, or involuntary emotional expression disorder (IEED).

Example: In describing her marriage, a woman is sobbing bitterly one moment, then laughing wildly the next.


    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Oct 2008