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Psychogenic Mutism in Children: Causes and Examples

  • Post category:Disorders
  • Reading time:3 mins read

Psychogenic mutism: When a child stops speaking due to emotional difficulties

It happens that a child who already spoke normally, or had some milder speech disorders, suddenly stop speaking. Then she says nothing at all, or is silent only in certain situations, e.g., at school. If he does not speak at all, it must first be determined whether he has suffered any organic brain damage that has affected the speech centers. If this did not happen, then psychogenic muteness (mutism) appeared. When mutism is limited to certain situations, it is clear that it is psychogenic in nature.

The causes of psychogenic mutism: Trauma and difficult environments

The cause of such a child’s reaction should be sought in the major emotional difficulties that the child has in relation to his environment, or in the severe psychological shock he experienced just before mutism.

A case of psychogenic mutism following a traumatic event

So the 6-year-old boy stopped talking when he experienced a fire in the apartment where he was locked himself. Neighbors noticed the fire in time and saved the child, but he was still very scared, although he passed without injuries. After a few days, when he calmed down, the boy’s speech returned, but he stammered for a while.

The impact of environmental factors on a child’s speech: A case study

A 4-year-old boy lives in an alcoholic family. Parents often get drunk, quarrel and fight. The boy is also being abused. It happens that he is alone in the house all day because his parents lock him up when they leave home. They are almost never friendly. The boy is very timid, does not dare to speak in front of strangers, often cries, is very irritable, wet in bed, and lately he has stopped talking in front of his parents. On our advice he was placed in kindergarten. There, after a few days, he established contact with his surroundings and began to speak again. Until recently, he became lively, started playing, and bedwetting disappeared.

When psychogenic mutism may indicate a schizophrenic process

In severe, stubborn cases of psychogenic mutism, when there are not enough adequate reasons for it in the child’s environment, it is worth considering whether it is a schizophrenic process.