Non-epileptic attack disorder (NEAD) represents a well-recognized clinical problem with a reported incidence among individuals with a diagnosis of intractable epilepsy as high as 36%. A failure to identify this disorder may lead to certain risks for the patient including polypharmacy, anticonvulsant toxicity, hazardous intervention, social and economic demands and a lack of recognition or neglect of any underlying psychological distress. This review provides a description of NEAD in an historic and societal context and discusses the variety of terminology which has been applied to this psychophysiological phenomenon. Epidemiology and associated methodological limitations; and diagnostic and classification issues related to NEAD in comparison to epilepsy are considered. The problems of failure to recognize NEAD in comparison to epilepsy are considered. The problems of failure to recognize NEAD are outlined, and theoretical and empirical aetiological issues are discussed.