New Anosognosia Video Raises Questions About Lack of Insight

People who are in the midst of a psychotic break often do not think anything is wrong with them. In recent years, this lack of insight has been described as anosognosia (a word that does not roll off the tongue easily.)  It means that a person isn’t aware that he/she is sick.

Two years ago, there was a push to add anosognosia to the the APA’s  DSM which is currently being revised. I wrote about that campaign on my blog and it attracted a number of divergent comments.

The Treatment Advocacy Center, which lobbies for passage of Assisted Outpatient Treatment laws, has released a video this week about anosognosia.  Dr. E. Fuller Torrey argues that anosognosia is a key reason why it’s important for family members and mental health professionals to be able to intervene when someone — who has a history of going off their medications or a history of violence — begins showing signs of psychosis. 

Critics argue that anosognosia isn’t a real medial condition and that most people are capable of making their own decisions without intervention even if they have a mental illness and may be in the midst of a breakdown. 

What do you think of anosognosia and this new video? I’m especially interested in personal stories.

Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts.


About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.


  1. This is the heartbreaking hurdle parents and loved ones struggle with.  How do we get our sick loved one to get help when they cannot THINK.  Their brain is not functioning and yet we have no power to help.  

  2. Pizzoboucher says

    In order for a person to realize that they are struggling with a mental illness, they need to have a feedback loop from people they trust- family, friends, and those exceptional treatment folks…not so different from other conditions that are tough for people to own…like alcoholism for example…you need somebody to broaden  your perspective that is constricted by all that is going on with you that you can neither understand or manage is not an inability to get it -agnos…. that is going on here…it is a reflection more of where the holes are in what we need to understand to better help those who suffer to see and to take some ownership of their illness…the fault line lies with understanding and treatment practice..not with a permanent feature called agnos…I am fully confident about what I say here.