What is stereotypy?


There is a saying that says “the human being is a strange being, an animal of habit” and there is nothing detached from reality, although it can also be somewhat offensive depending on the point in which it is seen. While it is true, the human being throughout history has been adapting and getting used to it. For its part, when it is said that the human being is strange, it refers to various attitudes that it tends, however, it encompasses all within the same term, having certain elements to evaluate before judging. For example, when we see both human beings who perform strange movements such as caressing themselves or also swinging their body, they may suffer from a condition called stereotypy. stereotypy definition


What is stereotypy?

Stereotypy is nothing more than a set of movements, postures and voices, which are presented in a repetitive or also ritualized way , which are produced without a specific or specific objective. These include both simple and complex movements which humans perform deliberately but people with this condition do not. This occurs in people who have certain intellectual disabilities , and are generally ” strange ” movements such as rocking the body in any direction, the constant crossing or shaking of the legs, or excessively short walks almost on the same point.



According to a commonly used dictionary, stereotypy is a set of movements that are repeated involuntarily and untimely, which occurs mainly in patients with dementia or another psychological disorder. It is often confused with other conditions such as Tic and can also be seen in animals, such as dogs.


In terms of psychology, stereotypy or also called stereotyped movements are considered as a hyperkinetic alteration of movement. That is, it is considered an excess of movements and reactions that occur both in the extremities of the body and also at the facial level.

Stereotypy characteristics

As defined above, what characterizes stereotypy are its repetitive patterns of nonsense movements, these are generally presented in children as part of their motor actions such as: moving the fingers as if they were doing a wave with them.

Within it they have given a name to what is their main common feature with respect to rhythm, thus using the following terms:

  • Rhythmic habit patterns, which is understood as a series of movements produced throughout the day of the day
  • Rhythmic patterns: are those behaviors that do not present a specific order in your life, but arise at any time.

Types of stereotypy

Despite the different studies carried out, to this day it is still unknown if the different types of stereotypy are actually related by the same basis, both of the physiopathy or as if it were a motor phenomenon that is similar to that of the expression However, there are theories that come very close to the problem where it is established as a consequence of neurological dysfunctions.

What has been adapted is to establish the stenotype in two different types, all depending on its permanence, they can be classified into two: transitory or persistent, their differences being quite clear.

On the other hand, if these occur in healthy people and they do not end up causing problems in the development of their lives, they are considered as physiological while if they cause difficulties they are marked as pathologies .


Among the possible causes that this condition generates in humans is a very popular one which establishes that it is a stimulation which is based on this is a forced function produced by the sensory register . Although this is a well-known cause, for many experts it is totally true.

On the other hand, there are other theories that suggest the fact that this is nothing more than a discharged tension which is a synonym of frustration, this usually occurs when it seeks to attract attention in some way, being the same produced in the same way by sensory stimulation.

Consequences of stereotypy

The main reason for the little information that exists about this condition is due to the fact that it has been very little studied because it is not considered to deserve any relevance and that is why the knowledge that is possessed about it is to a surface level as well as observable facts.

The most serious consequences that have been seen within the stereotype are those that are most expected, such as self-harm and also injuries within certain parasomnic stereotypes where the person who suffers from it usually hits his head with any surface, be it rigid or a little softer thus producing damage to the individual.


What happens with stereotypy is that being a condition that occurs mostly in children, this over time ends up being overcome , however, in the case of adults and within certain cases where there is a greater danger due to If the patient in question is a child or an adult, he develops self-injurious behaviors, it is necessary to address it.

In general, there are two main ways to approach cases, the first is with psychological help, where the specialist assesses the case and establishes the best tool with which to solve the situation, such as habit reversal therapy. . The second is with drug treatments , usually medicated by specialists in the field such as psychiatrists .

Relationship with autism

Among the cases where the present stereotype is most often seen is within children with autism. This is due to the fact that despite each child suffering from autism has a different idiosyncrasy, all these patients have a particularity and that is that they are not only more sensitive on a sentimental level , but also have problems when communicating with society .

This ends up bringing as a consequence that they present certain frustrations by not being able to understand what happens in certain situations, this is why tantrums are witnessed in the individual in the face of frustration, usually accompanied by  stereotypy . It produces within them at a sensory level, relief and control of the situation to what they are living through stereotype.

Animal stereotypy

Within the animal world, stereotypes are seen in different animals, for example some bears tend to perform various involuntary movements when they are frustrated by certain situations in their life; the most common of these is not being able to get enough food before the winter season.

The closest case that can be lived of animal stereotypy is in most homes that have dogs as pets. In them there are different situations that lead to frustration and without knowing how to vent it, they involuntarily perform certain actions which mean a relief for them, such as:

  • Incessantly chasing its tail as if it were a chase for a piece of food .
  • Barking inconsistently and of course, for no reason.
  • Walks within the same area or at the same point such as going around in circles or also running from one door to another until exhaustion.

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