Dissociative experiences and psychopathology in conversion disorders

J Psychosom Res. 1999 Mar;46(3):291-4. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3999(98)00112-3.


The concepts of dissociation and conversion are historically linked with the first psychodynamic ideas on hysteria. However, the abolition of "hysterical neurosis" from current nosology has led to independent developments of these theoretical models. Recent studies found a high degree of somatization in dissociative disorders. However, little is known about dissociation in conversion disorders. We assessed 72 patients with conversion disorders for their dissociative and general psychopathology using the German version of the Dissociative Experience Scale (DES) and the Symptom Check List (SCL-90-R). They were compared with a control group of 96 psychiatric patients suffering from various neurotic disorders, who were matched for gender and age. Dissociative symptoms were significantly more frequent in conversion disorder patients than in controls. There were no differences in the SCL-90-R scores between the two groups. Our findings support the theory of similar psychological processes underlying conversion and dissociative disorders despite their descriptive differences.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Conversion Disorder / diagnosis
  • Conversion Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis
  • Dissociative Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / standards
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology