Asplanchnia, a lack of visceral sensation

Yesterday a student and I were discussing the logical possibilities for why a transgenic mouse might be unable to acquire a conditioned taste aversion.  At the fundamental level, the mouse might not be able to taste the CS, or alternatively, it might be unable to detect the aversive visceral US.  While the former could be denoted “aguesia”, we couldn’t think of a parallel term for “a lack of visceral sensation”.

The usual terms for a lack of sensation are of the form: “a(n)+[Greek sensory term]+ia”, for example aguesia (lack of taste sensation), anosmia (lack of olfaction), or anopia (lack of vision).  So, taking  the Greek splagchnon (σπλάγχνων)  meaning the internal organs (“viscera”) or figuratively “gut feelings” and the capacity to feel deep emotions, I came up with:

 asplanchnia, the inability to feel visceral sensation.

There are two problems with “asplanchnia”:  First, it sounds specifically like the results of a splanchnicectomy, rather than the more general case of lacking all visceral sensation; and second, it might be confounded with the interpretation of an inability to feel sympathy or empathy (although “anempathetic” is already a common term).  For example, in modern Greek asplanchnia is used to denote a lack of feeling,  as in the poetical source of the national anthem of Greece and Cyprus,  “Hymn to Liberty” written by Dionysios Solomos in 1823  (in Greek  or English translation ) :

Stanza 57:

Ἐκειὸ τὸ ἔγγισμα πηγαίνει
βαθειὰ μὲς στὰ σωθικά,
ὅθεν ὅλη ἡ λύπη βγαίνει,
καὶ ἄκρα αἰσθάνονται ἀσπλαχνιά.

Through the vital members thrilling
Falls the touch of that caress
And destroys all grief, instilling
Rage and hatred merciless.
         — translated by Arnold Green 1884.

(The stanza refers to the effects of the touch of ghostly spirits on the emotions of the Greeks fighting against the Ottoman Empire.)

(Note: “Asplanchnia” is not to be confused with the freshwater Rotifer Asplanchna , which “lack a hind gut and have what is referred to as a blind stomach.” )


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