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Classification and external resources

Anosodiaphoria is a condition in which a person who suffers disability due to brain injury seems indifferent to the existence of their handicap. Anosophoria is specifically used in association with indifference to paralysis. It is a somatosensory agnosia, or a sign of neglect syndrome.[1] It might be specifically associated with defective functioning of the frontal lobe of the right hemisphere.[2]

Joseph Babinski first used the term anosodiaphoria in 1914 to describe a disorder of the body schema in which patients verbally acknowledge a clinical problem (such as hemiparesis) but fail to be concerned about it.[3] Anosodiaphoria follows a stage of anosognosia, in which there may be verbal, explicit denial of the illness, and after several days to weeks, develop the lack of emotional response.[4] Indifference is different than denial because it implies a lack of caring on the part of the patient whom otherwise acknowledges his or her deficit.


A few possible explanations for anosodiaphoria exist:

1. The patient is aware of the deficit but does not fully comprehend it or its significance for functioning

2. May be related to an affective communication disorder and defective arousal. These emotional disorders cannot account for the verbal explicit denial of illness of anosognosia.[5]

Other explanations include reduced emotional experience, impaired emotional communication, alexithymia, behavioral abnormalities, dysexecutive syndrome, and the Frontal lobes.[6]


Anosodiaphoria occurs after stroke of the brain. 27% of patients suffering from an acute hemispheric stroke suffer the stroke in the right hemisphere, while 2% suffer it in their left.[7]

Anosodiaphoria is thought to be related to unilateral neglect, a condition often found after damage to the non-dominant (usually the right) hemisphere of the cerebral cortex in which sufferers seem unable to attend to, or sometimes comprehend, anything on a certain side of their body (usually the left).

The frontal lobe is thought to be the primary area for the lack of emotional insight seen in anosodiaphoria, such as in frontotemporal dementia. A recent 2011 study done by Mendez and Shapira found that people suffering from frontotemporal dementia also had a loss of insight more properly described at "frontal anosodiaphoria", a lack of concern for proper self-appraisal. Patients were found to have a lack of emotional updating, or concern for having an illness; an absence of an emotional self-referent tagging of information on their disorder, which they think is possibly from disease in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate-anterior insula area, especially on the right.[8]


Indifference to illness may have an adverse impact on a patient's engagement in neurological rehabilitation, cognitive rehabilitation and physical rehabilitation. Patients are not likely to implement rehabilitation for a condition about which they are indifferent. Although anosognosia often resolves in days to weeks after stroke, anosodiaphoria often persists.[9] Therefore, the therapist has to be creative in their rehabilitation approach in order to maintain the interest of the patient.


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See alsoEdit


  1. "Anosodiaphoria." Online Medical Dictionary
  2. Prigatano, G. (2010). The study of anosognosia. New York, New York: Oxford University Press
  3. Prigatano, G. (1991). Awareness of deficit after brain injury: clinical and theoretical issues. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.
  4. Prigatano, G. (2010). The study of anosognosia. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.
  5. Prigatano, G. (1991). Awareness of deficit after brain injury: clinical and theoretical issues. New York, New York: Oxford University Press
  6. Prigatano, G. (2010). The study of anosognosia. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.
  7. Stone, S.P. Halligan, P.W., and Greenwood, R.J. (1993). The incidence of neglect phenomenon and related disorders in patients with an acute right or left hemisphere stroke. Age and Aging, 22, 46-52.
  8. Mendez, M.F. & Shapira, J.S. (2011). Loss of emotional insight in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia or "frontal anosodiaphoria".Consiousness and Cognition, 20(4), 1690-1696.
  9. Barrett, A.M., Buxbaum, L.J., Coslett, H.B., Edwards, E., Heilman, K.M., Hillis, A.E., Milberg, W.P., and Robertson, I.H. (2006). Cognitive rehabilitation interventions for neglect and related disorders: moving from bench to bedside in stroke patients. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 18(7), 1223-1236.

Further readingEdit

  • Prigatano, G. and Schacter, D. (eds) (1991) Awareness of Deficit After Brain Injury: Clinical and Theoretical Issues. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505941-7
  • Anosognosia: The neurology of beliefs and uncertainties. Vuilleumier, P. (2004) Cortex, 40, 9-17.
  • Vilayanur S. Ramachandran (1998) Phantoms in the Brain New York: Quill (HarperColling Publishing). ISBN 0-688-17217-2
  • Clare, L., & Halligan, P.W. (Eds.) (2006). Pathologies of Awareness: Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation.
  • Amador, X.F., David, A.S. (2004) Insight and Psychosis: Awareness of Illness in Schizophrenia and Related Disorders (2nd ed). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-852568-0
  • Amador, Xavier F. et al., Assessment of Insight in Psychosis, 150 Am. J. Psychiatry 873 (1993)
  • Amador, Xavier et al., Awareness of Illness in Schizophrenia, 17 Schizophrenia Bull., 113 (1991)
  • Amador, Xavier, I Am Not Sick I Don’t Need Help (2000)
  • Ghaemi, S. Nassir et al., Insight and Psychiatric Disorders: a Review of the Literature, With a Focus on its Clinical Relevance for Bipolar Disorder, 27 Psychiatric Annals 782 (1997)
  • Lysaker, Paul, et al., Insight and Psychosocial Treatment Compliance in Schizophrenia, 57 Psychiatry 311 (Nov. 1994)
  • McEvoy, Joseph P., et al., Why Must Some Schizophrenic Patients be Involuntarily Committed? The Role of Insight, 30 Comprehensive Psychiatry, 13 (1989)
  • McEvoy, Joseph, The Relationship Between Insight in Psychosis and Compliance With Medications, in Insight & Psychosis 299 (Xavier F. Amador & Anthony S. David eds. 1998)
  • McGlynn, Susan & Schacter, Daniel L., The Neuropsychology of Insight: Impaired Awareness of Deficits in a Psychiatric Context, 27 Psychiatric Annals 806 (1997)
  • Schwartz, Robert C., The Relationship Between Insight, Illness, and Treatment Outcome in Schizophrenia, Psychiatric Q., Spring 1998
  • Williams, Olajide, MD, Stroke Diaries, A Guide for Survivors and their Families. Oxford University Press. 2010
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