Automatism: An unconscious movement that may resemble simple repetitive tics or may be a complex sequence of natural-looking movements. This curious type of behavior occurs in a number of neurological and psychiatric disorders. The neurologic disorders associated with automatisms include narcolepsy (the sudden recurrent uncontrollable compulsion to sleep) and some forms of epilepsy such as especially psychomotor epilepsy. The psychiatric conditions associated with automatisms include schizophrenia (catatonic type) and fugue (flight) states. Automatisms involve doing something "automatically" and not remembering afterwards how one did it or even that one did it. Automatisms are also called automatic behavior.
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter
Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016