Stress and avoidance in Pseudoseizures: testing the assumptions

Epilepsy Res. 1999 Apr;34(2-3):241-9. doi: 10.1016/s0920-1211(98)00116-8.


Twenty women and 10 men with Pseudoseizures were matched by age and gender with an epilepsy- and a healthy-control group. In response to clinical and research evidence of a relationship between Pseudoseizures and the experience of stress, it was hypothesised that people with Pseudoseizures would perceive their ongoing lives as more stressful, and use more avoidant and distancing coping, and less problem-focused coping, than people in the two control groups. Using the Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen et al., J. Health Soc. Behav. 24, 1983, 385-396) and the Ways of Coping, revised version (Folkman and Lazarus, Manual for Ways of Coping Questionnaire, Consulting Psychologist Press, Paola Alto, CA, 1988) the study found that people with Pseudoseizures: (1) perceived their ongoing lives as significantly more stressful; (2) were significantly more likely to use a maladaptive (escape-avoidant) coping strategy; and (3) were significantly less likely to use an adaptive (planful problem solving) approach to coping than healthy controls. The study findings indicate that people with Pseudoseizures experience lives as stressful as do people with epilepsy, and are likely to employ maladaptive coping responses. Implications for diagnosis, intervention and future research are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology*
  • Epilepsy / psychology
  • Escape Reaction / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Problem Solving
  • Reference Values
  • Seizures / psychology*
  • Self Concept
  • Stress, Physiological / etiology*
  • Stress, Physiological / psychology