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Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Insight is the understanding a patient has of their illness, which for any symptom, should include:

  • awareness that experiences are due to an illness
  • recognition that what is wrong is a symptom of mental illness and not physical illness
  • recognition that the condition requires treatment

In a variety of illness insight may be markedly impaired. For example the hypomanic patient may protest vigorously about being detained in hospital when they actually feel very well indeed.

The schizophrenic patient might not belief that their illness results in their experiences, and will ascribe them to the actions of other people, simultaneously refusing treatment.

It is this lack of insight which results in the need for compulsory detection under the Mental Health Act (1983).

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