Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Cataplexy Definition:

A condition in which the patient loses muscle control and collapses.

Related Terms: Narcolepsy

Justice Maczko of the Supreme Court of Canada suggested in Baker v Guildbride that "over years, sometimes one, sometimes ten, this condition leads to cataplexy in three quarters of the patients with narcolepsy" and that:

"Cataplexy is a condition in which the patient loses muscle control and collapses. In its mild form it may amount to dropping of a pen and in more severe forms may amount to the person collapsing. Cataplexy does not result in a loss of consciousness or awareness; it merely involves the loss of muscle control. A cataplectic attack is caused by intense emotions such as fear or anger."

According to the 2009 edition of the Attorney's Dictionary of Medicine:

"Cataplexy: A sudden loss of muscular strength, caused by emotional strain. The affacted person may fall or sink to the ground."

According to Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary (26th ed. 1985), quoted with approval by Justice Blaine Anderson of the United States Court of Appeals in Winans v Brown:

"Cataplexy ... is a condition in which there are abrupt attacks of muscular weakness and hypotonia triggered by an emotional stimulus such as mirth, anger, fear, or surprise. It is often associated with narcolepsy."

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