Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Terminal Lucidity in Patients With Chronic Schizophrenia and Dementia: A Survey of the Literature

Nahm, Michael PhD*; Greyson, Bruce MD†

Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease: December 2009 - Volume iii-x - Issue 12 - pp 942-944
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181c22583
Brief Report

In this article, we present the results of a literature survey on case reports of the unexpected return of mental clarity and memory shortly before death, which we have called “terminal lucidity.” We focus specifically on terminal lucidity in mental disorders, of which we have found 81 case references. Of these, we were able to retrieve 49 case reports, most of which had been recorded before 1849. Thereafter, comparatively few reports of terminal lucidity have been published. Some more recent publications referred to terminal lucidity in patients suffering from schizophrenia and dementia. We draw parallels and distinctions between terminal lucidity and remissions attributable to febrile illness in neurosyphilis. We recommend in-depth studies on the psychopathology and neuropathology involved in terminal lucidity, since they might enable the development of both improved therapies and a better understanding of unresolved aspects of cognition and memory processing.

*Freiburg, Germany; and †Division of Perceptual Studies, Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.

Send reprint requests to Bruce Greyson, MD, Division of Perceptual Studies, Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia Health System, 210 10th St NE, Suite 100, Charlottesville, VA 22902. E-mail: cbg4d@virginia.edu.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.