Catalepsy is sometimes described as catatonic with waxy flexibility - rigid maintenance of a body position over an extended period of time. I've taken a decent amount of psychology classes, and some of the stories I've heard involved cataleptic mental patients.

Doctors and students in most mental hospitals really don't respect the patients (This is not personal knowledge) and some even play games with them. A favorite one among beginning psych students is to pose the patients that are catatonic with waxy flexibility. There's only one problem - to be catatonic and pose in one way for a long time demands a lot of strength. So more than one psych student has posed and pushed the patient maybe a little too far, and the patient decides to snap back to their original pose - whipping their limb around and doing something very painful to the psych student. Broken or dislocated jaws are the common punishment in the stories I've heard. There's many elements of an urban legend in this, but I've been assured that it does happen.

Cat"a*lep`sy (?), Cat`a*lep"sis (?), n. [NL. catalepsis, fr. Gr. a seizure, fr. to seize upon; down + to take, seize.] Med.

A sudden suspension of sensation and volition, the body and limbs preserving the position that may be given them, while the action of the heart and lungs continues.


© Webster 1913.

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