Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Catastrophic Reaction

  • Dawn E. BoumanEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_2074


Catastrophic condition


This term coined by Goldstein (1948) describes acute distress, agitation, and disorganized behavior occurring when overwhelmed by a situation with which the person cannot cope, typically following brain injury or other neurological impairment. Rapid and extreme anxiety, depression, and frustration can result when a person becomes overstimulated or overwhelmed with a task that has become too difficult or is perceived as being too difficult. Typically, persons experiencing catastrophic reactions are not fully aware of their increasing lability and cannot respond to logic and reason, but they benefit from decreased demands and calm reassurance. Catastrophic reactions were initially thought to be associated only with dominant hemisphere damage and accompanying language impairment, but they can follow any neurological problem that interferes with adaptive coping and executive functioning.


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References and Readings

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neuropsychology and Medical PsychologyUniversity of Cincinnati, Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation MedicineCincinnatiUSA