Unconscious States

Disorientation, Attention and Concentration

Disorientation is a loss of awareness of oneself in relation to time (the date or time of day), place (where one is) or identity (whether one’s own or others), as a result of which speech and behavior tend to be muddled.

Disorientation may be the product of clouding of consciousness Opens in new window, a head injury, a chronic brain disorder such as dementia Opens in new window, or the result of intoxication.

To be attentive is to be alert, aware and responsive, while to concentrate is to focus and sustain mental activity on a particular task.

Poor attention and concentration are usually the result of tiredness or disinterest. In some cases, the conscious patient’s apparent lack of attentiveness simply reflects the fact that his attention is focused elsewhere, a phenomenon labeled distractibility Opens in new window.

If a patient is distractible, his/her attention and conversation changes from topic to topic in accordance with stimuli from within or without, for example in response to visual hallucinations. More rarely, impaired attention or concentration is indicative of clouding of consciousness Opens in new window.

    Adapted from:
  1. Sims' Symptoms in the Mind: An Introduction to Descriptive Psychopathology By Femi Oyebode
  2. Extraordinary Disorders of Human Behavior By Claude T. H. Friedmann, Robert A. Faguet