Psych101: Psychosis Vs Neurosis?

Note: The internet is full of articles defining psychosis and neurosis. Here are the key differences between them that we have compiled for you. This is strictly for the basic understanding of the concepts.

Purpose of Classification:
Psychosis Vs Neurosis

  • Diagnostic clarity
  • Ensuring appropriate treatment

Things to remember:

These are not mutually exclusive. They exist on a continuum or spectrum of intensity where one encompasses the other; if on one end of the spectrum we have neurosis, on the other end we have psychosis.


In 1803, the focus of causal factors of mental illness began to shift from the nerves and neurons to the psyche.

And in 1845, the term psychosis was formally introduced by Ernst Feuchsterleben to describe illnesses that were beyond defects of the nervous system and included an element of mental disorder.

Feuchsterleben’s conceptualization brings forth that

  • Psychosis is an advanced form of neurosis and every psychotic disorder in a way has an element of neurosis
  • Every form of neurosis is not necessarily psychotic.

Current Reality:

The current understanding is that one can experience neurotic and/or psychotic symptoms without necessarily suffering from neurosis or psychosis.

A person suffering from neurosis can suffer from psychotic symptoms without a full-blown psychotic disorder.

On the spectrum,

  • Begins with neurosis
  • Neurosis with psychotic symptoms ( Intensity increases)
  • Borderline Personality Disorder  (on the verge of psychosis)
  • Ends with psychosis

Key Differences:

Psychosis Neurosis
One loses contact with the reality One does not lose contact with the reality
Difficult to lead a functional life Easier to lead a functional life
One requires medication – (physiological basis) Often does not require medication
One’s entire personality is altered Aspects of one’s personality are affected
One does not have any insight One possesses a sense of insight
Can be managed to a certain extent, but (mostly) cannot be completely cured Better prognosis, Higher chances of being completely cured


Thus, it is seen that neurosis and psychosis, even though two branches of the same tree, significantly differ from each other, but when we move towards mid portions of the spectrum, most of the differences get blurred.

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