Medical term describing the anti-psychotic class of psychotherapeutic drugs, the other three being anti-anxiety agents, anti-depressants, and anti-manics. From the Greek: neuro-, mental, nervous; lepton-, thin, subtle.

Neuroleptics come in five classes: phenothiazines, thioxanthenes, butyrophenones, indoles and dibenzoxazepines. Examples include chlorpromazine (Thorazine), haloperidol (Haldol), fluphenazine (Prolixin), trifluoperzine (Stelazine), and thioridane (Mellaril).

Neuroleptic drugs are used to treat the symptoms of psychosis, defined as "an impairment of mental functioning to the extent that it interferes grossly with an individual's ability to meet the ordinary demands of life…{involving} altered perceptions, thoughts, or consciousness." Controversially, medical practitioners and institutional caretakers have been accused of using neuroleptics to keep patients under their care docile and tractable.

Side effects of neuroleptic drugs include tardive dyskinesia, neuroleptic syndrome, and neuroleptic malignant syndrome, q.v.. The Thorazine Shuffle is a recognized condition.

As food for thought, an excerpt from an unpublished opinion of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, in the matter of Valeriu Zamfir, C1-97-369:

The clinical definition of competency to refuse neuroleptic medication is as follows: (1) Awareness of having a mental disorder; (2) sufficient knowledge about medication and the mental disorder; and (3) a refusal that is not based upon delusional beliefs.

Oolong points out that neuroleptics are also used to "treat" autism, from a mistaken belief that autism = psychosis.

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