Current Problems of Psychiatry (Mar 2017)

Review paper. Terminal lucidity

  • Chiriboga-Oleszczak Boris Alejandro

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 18, no. 1
pp. 34 – 46


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Terminal lucidity is a term used in the medical literature to determine the improvement of mental functioning shortly before death, even among patients with serious and long-term disorders. In 19th century, cases of mind clarity recovery shortly before death, were often recognized by doctors and interpreted as a sign of an impending death. In 20th century, the interest in this phenomenon decreased and then, virtually disappear. In recent years, on the wave of publications concerning near death experiences and related events such as the end of life experiences, papers about the improvement of mental functioning shortly before death, exponentially grew and got a new name, terminal lucidity. In this paper, an overview of the available literature is presented to outline the historical, phenomenological and clinical picture of this phenomenon and its possible implications for medical care and future studies.