Neurotic behaviour implies carrying out an act in response to a stressor in a manner that is inappropriate to deal with that stress; for example, the husband who breaks down his own front door with his fists because his wife locks him out. Neurotic illness is a consistent pattern of maladaptive behaviour occurring over a longer time in response to either a prolonged stress, or a stress with long term repercussions; for example, the young woman who cannot, because of chronic anxiety, separate from her mother and so spends her time at her family home rather than with her husband, so jeopardising her marriage. ‘Neurotic personality’, ‘neuroticism’, ‘abnormality of personality’ or ‘personality disorder’ is a life-long characteristic in the context of which such reactions of behaviour or illness may occur; for example, the exessively cautious sensitive schoolboy chooses his future occupation partly because of his personality constitution, and becomes the over-conscientious, fussy bank clerk constantly worried by scruples of detail. He is more prone to anxiety neurosis because of his personality structure.
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