Author and blogging buddy, Lynn Rush, asks:
What would make someone go mute? How would they recover?
Great question, Lynn!
The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV) categorizes a disorder called Selective Mutism. It is thought to be an anxiety disorder in children. Kids with the disorder do not speak in certain social situations. They may speak quite normally at home, but when confronted with an anxiety provoking situation (school, for example), they become mute and do not speak. These children tend to have higher incidence of being victims of abuse. Treatment includes therapy and sometimes medication (ex. Prozac).
In adults, mutism can be caused by neurologic syndromes such as advanced Alzheimer’s Disease, Mad Cow Disease (aka Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease), frontotemporal dementias, and catatonia (caused by severe depression or psychosis). Generally, the frontal lobes of the brain are damaged or adversely affected in some way (which the above listed illnesses do). Mutism can also be caused by damage to the vocal cords.
There are cases of adults who experience mutism after a severe trauma. Mutism can be a symptom in disorders such as psychotic illnesses, PTSD, and depression. Treatment can be difficult because you can’t force the person to speak. Various therapies such as CBT (which includes stimulus fading, desensitization, and shaping). Some recover spontaneously, with the help of therapy, or go years without speaking.
There’s not too much information that I found about this topic, so if anyone has any other information, please chime in!
Keep the questions coming, gang! Be sure to check out Lydia’s Medical Monday post and Sarah’s psychologically related post. Remember, these posts are for writing purposes only and are NOT to be construed as medical advice or treatment.