The differential diagnosis of epilepsy, pseudoseizures, dissociative identity disorder, and dissociative disorder not otherwise specified

Bull Menninger Clin. 2000 Spring;64(2):164-80.


The authors review the co-occurrences of dissociative symptoms and disorders with epilepsy and pseudo-seizures and examine newer diagnostic instruments that assist in accurate diagnosis of persons with concomitant seizure behaviors and dissociative symptoms. They also review seizure behaviors and electroencephalographic findings in persons with dissociative identity disorder (DID) and dissociative disorder not otherwise specified (DDNOS) and dissociative symptoms in persons with epilepsy and with pseudoseizures. Dissociative symptoms in 15 patients with epilepsy and 15 with pseudo-seizures were examined using the Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES) and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Dissociative Disorders (SCID-D). On the SCID-D, pseudo-seizure patients had significantly higher dissociative symptom scores than epileptic patients, but DES scores did not reliably distinguish epileptic and pseudo-seizure patients. Misdiagnosis of persons with seizures and dissociative symptoms can be avoided by careful adherence to DSM dissociative disorder criteria, the use of video-EEG monitoring, and systematic assessment of dissociative symptoms with the SCID-D.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Conversion Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Conversion Disorder / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / psychology
  • Humans
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Seizures / diagnosis*
  • Seizures / psychology
  • Video Recording