1912, from German Autismus, coined 1912 by Swiss psychiatrist Paul Bleuler (1857-1939) from comb. form of Greek autos- "self" (see auto-) + -ismos suffix of action or of state. The notion is of "morbid self-absorption."
autism au·tism (ô'tĭz'əm)
Abnormal introversion and egocentricity; acceptance of fantasy rather than reality.
A developmental disorder characterized by severe deficits in social interaction and communication and by abnormal behavior patterns, such as the repetition of specific movements or a tendency to focus on certain objects. Autism is evident in the first years of life. Its cause is unknown.
A serious disorder appearing in childhood and characterized by the child's refusal to relate to other people and severely limited use of language. The cause of autism in children is unknown, but researchers generally feel that it lies in a malfunction of the central nervous system, not in the way parents have treated them or in other aspects of their environment. The term is sometimes applied, more loosely, to adults who are extremely self-absorbed and who see things in terms of their hopes and fantasies rather than realistically.
A psychiatric disorder marked by deficits in communication and social interaction.