Van Gogh's The Starry Night, from 1889, shows changes in light and color as can appear with psychosis.
Bust of Hippocrates
Gottlieb Burckhardt (1836-1907)

Abnormal condition of the mind that results in difficulties determining what is real and what is not real.

- Psychosis

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Olanzapine, an example of a second-generation (atypical) antipsychotic
Advertisement for Thorazine (chlorpromazine) from the 1950s, reflecting the perceptions of psychosis, including the now-discredited perception of a tendency towards violence, from the time when antipsychotics were discovered

Antipsychotics, also known as neuroleptics, are a class of psychotropic medication primarily used to manage psychosis (including delusions, hallucinations, paranoia or disordered thought), principally in schizophrenia but also in a range of other psychotic disorders.


Perception in the absence of an external stimulus that has the qualities of a real perception.

My eyes at the moment of the apparitions by August Natterer, a German artist who created many drawings of his hallucinations

Hallucinations can be associated with drug use (particularly deliriants), sleep deprivation, psychosis, neurological disorders, and delirium tremens.

Thought disorder

Any disturbance in cognition that adversely affects language and thought content, and thereby communication.

An embroidered cloth produced by a person with schizophrenia, showing the nonsensical associations between words and ideas characteristic of thought disorder
A depiction of an individual with bipolar disorder, illustrating the conflicting thoughts going through their mind in manic and depressive states.

Formal thought disorder, also known as disorganized thinking, results in disorganized speech and is recognized as a major feature of schizophrenia and other psychoses.

Major depressive disorder

Mental disorder characterized by at least two weeks of pervasive low mood, low self-esteem, and loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities.

Sorrowing Old Man (At Eternity's Gate)
by Vincent van Gogh (1890)
An 1892 lithograph of a woman diagnosed with melancholia
A cup analogy demonstrating the diathesis–stress model that under the same amount of stressors, person 2 is more vulnerable than person 1, because of their predisposition.
Caricature of a man with depression
Physical exercise is one recommended way to manage mild depression.
Sertraline (Zoloft) is used primarily to treat major depression in adults.
Diagnoses of depression go back at least as far as Hippocrates.
The 16th American president, Abraham Lincoln, had "melancholy", a condition that now may be referred to as clinical depression.

In severe cases, depressed people may have psychotic symptoms.

Auditory hallucination

Form of hallucination that involves perceiving sounds without auditory stimulus.

My eyes at the moment of the apparitions by August Natterer, a German artist who created many drawings of his hallucinations

This may be associated with psychotic disorders, most notably schizophrenia, and holds special significance in diagnosing these conditions.

Postpartum psychosis

Recognized that severe mental illness sometimes started abruptly in the days after childbirth, later known as postpartum psychosis or puerperal psychosis.

Rates of psychoses among Swedish first-time mothers

Psychosis implies the presence of manic symptoms, stupor or catatonia, perplexity, confusion, disorders of the will and self, delusions and/or hallucinations.


False fixed belief that is not amenable to change in light of conflicting evidence.

James Tilly Matthews illustrated this picture of a machine called an "air loom", which he believed was being used to torture him and others for political purposes.

Delusions have been found to occur in the context of many pathological states (both general physical and mental) and are of particular diagnostic importance in psychotic disorders including schizophrenia, paraphrenia, manic episodes of bipolar disorder, and psychotic depression.


Insanity, madness, lunacy, and craziness are terms that describe a spectrum of individual and group behaviors that are characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns.

Engraving of the eighth print of A Rake's Progress, depicting inmates at Bedlam Asylum, by William Hogarth
Goya's Madhouse, 1812-1819

In medicine, the general term psychosis is used to include the presence either of delusions or of hallucinations or both in a patient; and psychiatric illness is "psychopathology", not mental insanity.


Class of functional mental disorders involving chronic distress, but neither delusions nor hallucinations.

The prevalence of mental illness is higher in more economically unequal countries

Neurosis should not be mistaken for psychosis, which refers to a loss of touch with reality.

Karl Jaspers

German-Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher who had a strong influence on modern theology, psychiatry, and philosophy.

Jaspers in 1946
Karl Jaspers in 1910
Karl Jaspers: Allgemeine Psychopathologie, first print 1913

One of Jaspers's central tenets was that psychiatrists should diagnose symptoms of mental illness (particularly of psychosis) by their form rather than by their content.