Definition of Mutism, elective

Mutism, elective: Complete lack of speech (mutism) that is believed to be volitional (willed) on the part of the patient.

True elective mutism may be a reaction to a traumatic event, the aftermath of an injury to the mouth or throat, particularly if it is painful, or a symptom of extreme shyness.

In some cases, the lack of speech is eventually found not to be volitional, but a sign of damage or deformity of the speech apparatus, or a feature of autism.

See also selective mutism.


Last Editorial Review: 10/8/2012

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