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Comment by Hector Warnes

Marcelo Cetkovich: Sejunction theory/hypothesis - Comment by Hector Warnes

Congratulation to Marcelo Cetkovich for his concise entry of Wernicke’s “sejuntion theory/hypothesis” into INHN’s Dictionary. It might be of interest that Otto Hans Adolf Gross in his paper “Dementia Sejunctiva”, published in the early years of the 20th century, just a few years after the “theory” was introduced, referred to “sejunction” as a “closed circuit” of associative ties characterized by a loss of certain associations assumedly caused by an interruption of neuronal pathways. He went even further by suggesting  that “sejunction” could explain fragmentation of the thinking process with collapse of several functionally separate series of associations and a break in the continuity of temporal memory (Gross 1904).

It might be also of interest that Karl Jaspers understood “sejunction” as the underlying pathophysiology of a variety of “psychic disturbances”. In his General Psychopathology, he wrote: “The basis of the majority of psychic disturbances lies primarily in the parting of the association-links or sejunction. Where there are false ideas or judgements in an individual or they are in conflict with each other or with reality this is thought to be due to a ‘loosening up’ in the firm network of associations. By severing the continuity tracks, by an absence of certain associative perfomances a number of different personalities may simultaneously arise in the same individual and a ‘break up’ of individuality occur. Sejunction can also explain a large number of hallucinations… if association is interrupted, excitation processes are dammed up and thus a progressively increasing stimulus is established which brings the hallucinations about. Similarly  ‘autochthonus ideas’ (the so called ‘made thoughts’) are due to a process of irritation when continuity is interrupted whereas compulsive thinking is explained by a process of irritation while continuity is preserved. Abnormal movements (parakinesis) are also due to these sejunctions. Because hallucinations are due to sejunction, Wernicke finds it quite feasible that they are without any counter-image and therefore there is no criticism of them; also that they so often have contents of an imperative character…..”(Jaspers 1963).



Gross OHA. Dementia Sejunctiva. Neurologisches Zentralblatt 1904;  23: 1144-6. 

Jaspers K. General Psychopathology- (translated by J. Hoenig and Mariam W. Hamilton). Manchester: Manchester University Press; 1963.


Hector Warnes
January 21, 2016