Psychiatry & Psychology--General/neurosis vs psychosis


I have a question regarding neurosis vs psychosis.
While searching on line is never beneficial to anyone, i read that neurosis is not serious and does not turn into psychosis, since neurosis consists of anxiety disorders.
If neurosis does not turn into psychosis, can people who suffer from neurosis have suicidal thoughts or behaviour?


I don't mean to sound argumentative but online searches can offer many benefits. You can't always totally trust what you read, but for the most part I find it authoritative.  For a question like yours, you can trust a site like WebMD and most of Wiki.

Neuroses and psychoses don't actually exist (in the sense that you could X-ray or dissect a brain and find it). They are just words made up by Freud to describe a behavior pattern.  Troubled? You're just neurotic. Out of touch with reality? Psychotic. The two don't much relate to each other, and are separate from thoughts of suicide. That is, both neurotics and non-neurotics (though it has been argued that there aren't any) can think of suicide. Incidentally, thinking about it is common and usually not considered serious, whereas planning or practicing is another matter.

Thanks for asking us, and I hope the answer will be somewhat useful to you. If there is something else, I can't offer therapy, but please feel free to send a follow-up question. In these matters, trying to define a problem or condition is not as helpful in deciding what to do about it.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Thanks for your prompt response.
And, that is where my confusion started....some article cited different types of anxiety disorders (neurosis) and then indicated one of them, forgot the name of the disorder, patients exhibited suicidal behaviour....i was a little or a lot confused about it.
If neurosis is a minor mental disorder, why would these people have suicidal behavior, which is considered serious?

Thanks Alan!!!

My answer was clouded by the concern that you were asking because you were suicidal so I was trying to be reassuring, but now it seems you were motivated by intellectual curiosity.

Yes, if a neurosis includes dangerous activity (thrill-seeking, self-harm, drug-taking) then certainly it's no longer a harmless situation. And yes, this is an exception or contradiction in that neurotics are supposed to be able to manage themselves.  

As I indicated, these are not useful labels. Freud was trying to define who could benefit from psychoanalysis and why. The terms are still widely used casually, but less so in the mental health professions.

You're most welcome, and thanks for clarifying your interest.


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Alan Auerbach


Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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