a class of functional mental disorders involving distress but neither delusions nor hallucinations, whereby behaviour is not necessarily outside socially acceptable norms. It is also known as psychoneurosis or neurotic disorder, and thus those suffering from it are said to be neurotic. The term essentially describes an “invisible injury” and the resulting condition.
Neurosis was coined by the Scottish doctor William Cullen in 1769 to refer to “disorders of sense and motion” caused by a “general affection of the nervous system”. For him, it described various nervous disorders and symptoms that could not be explained physiologically. It derives from the Greek word “νεῦρον” (neuron, “nerve”) with the suffix -osis (diseased or abnormal condition). The term was however most influentially defined by Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud over a century later. It has continued to be used in contemporary theoretical writing in psychology and philosophy.
There are many different specific forms of neurosis: obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety neurosis, hysteria (in which anxiety may be discharged through a physical symptom), and a nearly endless variety of phobias as well as obsessions such as pyromania. According to Dr. George Boeree, effects of neurosis can involve: “…anxiety, sadness or depression, anger, irritability, mental confusion, low sense of self-worth, etc., behavioural symptoms such as phobic avoidance, vigilance, impulsive and compulsive acts, lethargy, etc., cognitive problems such as unpleasant or disturbing thoughts, repetition of thoughts and obsession, habitual fantasising, negativity and cynicism, etc. Interpersonally, neurosis involves dependency, aggressiveness, perfectionism, schizoid isolation, socio-culturally inappropriate behaviours, etc.”
[word requested by si-jones]