- The term scierneuropsia comes from the Greek words skieros (shady), neuron (nerve), and opsis (seeing). It was introduced in or shortly before 1958 by the American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Peter A. Martin to denote a psychogenic visual symptom in which perceived objects and stimuli lack their usual brightness, and thus appear to be in a shadow. Martin describes sci-erneuropsia in analogy with the ophthalmologic definition of "scieropia as a persistent, disturbing difficulty in seeing objects as vividly as they had appeared before. As he asserts, "Patients described their visual disturbance in terms of light perception. They stated that objects now appeared dim, that brightness was no longer present. They felt that more light was needed to see the objects, which appeared as ifseen through a screen or a veil or as if in a shadow." The reason for Martin to coin the term scierneurop-sia was that he envisaged the symptom as exclusively psychogenic in nature and that he wished to distinguish it from a phenomenologically similar symptom with an organic etiology, known as " obscuration. In Martin's opinion, scierneurop-sia may occur quite regularly under physiological circumstances, notably upon awakening. According to him this physiological " hypnopompic phenomenon tends to be transient in nature. He regards persistent cases of scierneuropsia as pathological. As he explains in psychoanalytic fashion, "The patients with scierneuropsia struggle with a symptom arising from a hallucination of a visual screen. This screen expresses a wish to return to a state of sleep as a needed barrier between themselves and reality. The barrier is needed to prevent an outburst of unneutral-ized aggressive energy, of anal- or oral-sadistic origin." Scierneuropsia may be classified as a variant of " sensory conversion. Phenomenologi-cally, it shows certain similarities to scieropia and " hemeralopia (i.e. day blindness).ReferencesMartin, P.A. (1960). On scierneuropsia - A previously unnamed psychogenic visual disturbance. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 8, 71-81.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.