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Senile squalor: Plyushkin's not Diogenes' syndrome

  • E. Cybulska (a1)
Extract

Some names appear to stick to syndromes or diseases like a proverbial glue, regardless of their total inappropriateness. Gross self-neglect in old age characterised by domestic squalor, social withdrawal, apathy, tendency to hoard rubbish (syllogomania) and a lack of shame was originally reported by Macmillan & Shaw in 1966 and subsequently ‘christened’ by Clark et al as Diogenes syndrome in 1975. Post (1982) preferred the term ‘senile recluse’ and argued that this is not a syndrome but merely an end stage of personality disorder. It was usually extremely difficult to help these patients, as one's care and goodwill often met with hostility and blunt refusal to cooperate (Cybulska & Rucinski, 1986). More recent studies, however, have shown a strong association of this condition with frontal lobe dysfunction (Orrell & Sahakian, 1991), thus giving a psychiatrist of old age a somewhat firmer basis for action.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Clark, A. N. G., Mankikar, G. D. & Gray, I. (1975) Diogenes syndrome; a clinical study of gross self-neglect in old age. Lancet, i, 366368.
Cybulska, E. & Rucinski, J. (1986) Gross self-neglect in old age. British Journal of Hospital Medicine, 36, 2123.
Gogol, N. (1961) Dead Souls, pp. 120128. London: Penguin.
Macmillan, D. & Shaw, P. (1966) Senile breakdown in standards of personal and environmental cleanliness. British Medical Journal, ii, 10321037.
Orrell, M. W. & Sahakian, B. J. (1991) Dementia of frontal lobe type. Psychological Medicine, 21, 553556.
Post, F. (1982) Functional Disorders. In Psychiatry of Late Life (eds Levy, R. & Post, F.), pp. 176196. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Senile squalor: Plyushkin's not Diogenes' syndrome

  • E. Cybulska (a1)
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