Naseeruddin Shah has opened up about suffering from a condition called onomatomania.

In an interview with YouTube channel Chalchitra Talks, the veteran actor said, “I suffer from an ailment called onomatomania. I’m not joking. It’s a medical condition. You can check it in the dictionary.”

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He even went on to explain the condition. “Onomatomania is an ailment in which you keep repeating a word or a phrase, a sentence or a verse or a speech for no reason at all. Except that you like to hear it. I do it all the time so I am never quite at rest. Even when I am sleeping, I am going over some passage I love,” said the Gehraaiyaan actor.

However, experts point out that it is not a “medical nor a psychological condition”.

What is the condition?

According to, onomatomania can also mean “fear of a word” or “frustration at not being able to think of a word”. It states that as a noun, onomatomania is an “obsession with a particular word which the person uses repeatedly or which intrudes into consciousness”.

Deekshaa Athwani, consultant clinical psychologist, Fortis Hospital Mulund mentioned that one’s “preoccupation with a certain word or phrase” can make a person “use it repeatedly”. “The preoccupation can, sometimes, also manifest as the inability to recall a certain word or phrase. The causes are unknown as it is not a medical condition nor a psychological condition; but yes, it does affect a person’s day to day life,” said Athwani.

Stressing that it is primarily an “abnormal concentration on certain words or on the effort to recall a particular word”, Dr Sonal Anand, psychiatrist, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road, said that it is fine as long as it doesn’t affect one’s daily life. “But, if the needed, it can be managed with Cognitive behavioural therapy. Different techniques are used in CBT, a type of specialised counselling, to re-organise thoughts and gain control over them. Medical management may be required if symptoms affect daily life and reduce productivity,” she said.

However, Dr Samir Parekh, consultant psychiatrist, and director, Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Fortis Healthcare said that “by itself, it is nothing”. “It can be a part of an individual’s personality, traits. For instance, if you are in arts or literature, you will constantly think about it a lot. Different people have different personalities which can manifest differently. So by itself, it is nothing,” he said.

Agreed clinical psychologist Dr Kamna Chhibber, who said that “a mental health condition requires multiple factors, and understanding the kind of impairment it leads to in terms of relationships, day-to-day functioning. Only then treatments are looked at accordingly. It also depends on the kind of distress it is leading to for an individual.”

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