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The NonVerbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs & Body Language Cues

Soft Sign


Neuro cue. A gesturebody movement, or posture used clinically to diagnose a psychiatric or movement disorder.

Usage: Soft signs include, e.g., apraxia cues, eye-blink rates, and startle reflex signs. Two generic types of soft sign have been identified: a. those involving motor systems suggestive of early-life brain disturbances, and b. those involving less localized systems suggestive of adult neural dysfunctions and behavioral disturbances (Woods 1992). "Both . . . appear to be clinically useful in [the psychiatric] patient population" (Woods 1992:446).

Psychiatry. "Beginning in the 1700s, increased emphasis was placed on detailed and accurate descriptions of abnormal mental processes and states. Philippe Pinel, a French physician considered to be one of the founders of modern psychiatry, argued for an objective medico-philosophical approach to psychological disorders. He advocated that '. . . only symptoms that are manifest to the senses through external signs, such as the speech, strange gestures, the expression of certain bizarre and uncontrolled emotions . . . are taken into account'" (Martin L. Korn, "Historical Roots of Schizophrenia," CME, Psychiatry Clinical Management, Volume 5, presented by Medical Education Collaborative and Medscape, June 21, 2001).