Dissociation in temporal lobe epilepsy and pseudo-epileptic seizure patients

J Nerv Ment Dis. 1999 Dec;187(12):713-20. doi: 10.1097/00005053-199912000-00002.


Patients with epileptic seizures (ES) and especially those with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) share many symptoms with patients with pseudo-epileptic seizures (PES), and the differentiation between them is often difficult There is growing evidence that a subgroup of PES patients suffer from a dissociative disorder. It is recognized that dissociative symptoms pertain to both psychological and somatoform components of experience. Questionnaires assessing dissociation might provide positive criteria for the diagnosis of PES. In this study, the Dissociation Questionnaire (DIS-Q) and the Somatoform Dissociation Questionnaire (SDQ-20) were administered to patients with ES (TLE, non-TLE) and PES. To control for the influence of general psychoneurotic complaints, the SCL-90 was administered. Apart from this, answers on a trauma questionnaire were related to the diagnosis. Results showed that PES patients scored significantly higher on the SDQ-20, also after correction with the SCL-90, and no difference was found on the DIS-Q. Also, PES patients significantly more often reported sexual traumatic experiences. A logistic regression revealed that results on the SDQ-20 have no independent value in addition to the contribution of gender, age, age at seizure onset, and the presence of sexual abuse in the prediction of the diagnosis. In conclusion, somatoform and not psychological dissociative symptoms are characteristic for PES patients in comparison to ES patients. Other measures are needed within the framework of the differential diagnosis between PES and ES.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Dissociative Disorders / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incest / statistics & numerical data
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Rape / statistics & numerical data
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / diagnosis*
  • Seizures / epidemiology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data