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Symptoms of Catatonia: Stupor, Posturing

Catatonia is not a disorder in and of itself, but a possible symptom of several known disorders, especially those classified on the psychotic spectrum. Catatonia is experienced by up to 35 percent of those diagnosed with schizophrenia. Catatonia can also be an adverse consequence of a substance/medication.


The clinical presentation of a catatonic state is expressed by three (or more) of the following symptoms:

  • Being in a stupor. The person is not moving their body or actively relating to environment and stays in a fixed position. Muscles and posture appear rigid.
  • Catalepsy or posturing. The person either passively induces or actively maintains an unnatural posture contrary to the direction of gravity.
  • Waxy flexibility. Meaning there is slight but even resistance to positioning by examiner.
  • Mutism. None or very little verbal response even though there is no neurological deficit that would inhibit speech, such as a traumatic brain injury or stroke.
  • Negativism. Opposition or no response to instructions or external stimuli.
  • Mannerism, showing caricature of normal actions.
  • Stereotypy. Displaying repetitive, abnormally frequent, non-goal-directed movements.
  • Agitation that is not influenced by external stimuli.
  • Grimacing. Making an exaggerated facial expression of disgust.
  • Echolalia. Mimicking another person’s speech.
  • Echopraxia. Mimicking another’s movements.

Johnna Medina, Ph.D.

Johnna Medina, Ph.D. is an author, researcher, and graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently completing her postdoctoral research fellowship at Stanford School of Medicine.

APA Reference
Medina, J. (2020). Symptoms of Catatonia: Stupor, Posturing. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 17 Jan 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 17 Jan 2020
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