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I am writing a psychology paper describing an ASD (Autistic) client that acts like a cat, often meowing, nuzzling against objects, and walking around on all fours.

I was curious if there is a better word for "acting like an animal" than zoomorphism or zoomorphic behavior.

There are several threads on this site asking for "an antonym of anthropomorphic" and most of the responses bring up zoomorphism and or bestiality. However, I am hoping for one that best describes the action of, rather than the state or attribution of animal traits. Or is zoomorphism the best that can be done as the current English language stands?

  • Since such actions are almost certain to be comic (a young child exploring life, or a comedian; any related terms would be inappropriate) or related to some disorder, terms will almost certainly be either psychology-domain or again inappropriate (bestial, monster, feral...). – Edwin Ashworth Dec 29 '19 at 11:38
  • There is always "animalistic", but it has pejorative connotations. – Hot Licks Dec 29 '19 at 20:50
  • Word choice might depend on how age-appropriate this behaviour is. How old is the client? – nnnnnn Dec 29 '19 at 22:32
  • 4-5years of age – Cinematic Jan 1 at 5:55
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The disorder has been called Clinical lycanthropy.

As for the sentence, to make it sound less coarse you could write:

The patient behaves in a manner that resembles animal behavior.

or

The patient acts in a catlike manner (or displays zoanthropic behavior.)

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"beastly" seems unpretentious as well as apt.

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    The question is asking for a technical word for the action which could be used in a diagnosis. This is unsuited. You might explain why beastly fits as an answer to the question. – Andrew Leach Mar 8 at 0:42
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feral would be an excellent word.

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    The question is asking for a technical word for the action which could be used in a diagnosis. This is unsuited. You might explain why feral fits as an answer to the question. – Andrew Leach Mar 8 at 0:42

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