Thorazine, a trade name for chlorpromazine, is a psychiatric drug of the class known as anti-psychotic or neuroleptic. Because it is a dopamine antagonist, a common side effect is to cause motor symptoms that resemble Parkinson's disease.

One of these symptoms is a shuffling gait when walking. This symptom has been dubbed the Thorazine shuffle.

Thorazine has historically been overused in mental institutions to keep the patient quiet, rather than for any direct therapeutic value for the patient. It dulls and slows the mind as well as the movements of the body, a state referred to as psycho-motor retardation. Because of this, the term Thorazine shuffle has come to connote the full chemical straitjacket effect. It can even be used in ways that allude to the general experience of being controlled or institutionalized.

Two bands have released songs titled "Thorazine Shuffle". One song is on the album Gutter Ballet by Savatage (1989, Atlantic Records), and the other is on Dose by Gov't Mule (1998, Capricorn Records).

Usage note: If another drug is causing the same kind of shuffling gait, its name can be substituted for Thorazine, e.g. the Stelazine shuffle or the Haldol shuffle. This usage is usually limited to neuroleptic drugs. A more alliterative version sometimes used for Stelazine is the Stelazine stomp.

Example Usage: "I went to visit my friend after his suicide attempt, but we couldn't talk much. When they let him out of the quiet room he was doing the Thorazine shuffle and he acted like a zombie."

My original references consist of psychiatrists, the package insert for Thorazine, and way too much personal experience. Information on the side effect itself can be found on the Thorazine, anti-psychotic, and chlorpromazine nodes, or on the following website:

Thorazine Side Effects. Rxlist. Page accessed Feb. 14, 2004.

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