Dissociation, hypnotizability, coping styles and health locus of control: characteristics of pseudoseizure patients

Seizure. 2000 Jul;9(5):314-22. doi: 10.1053/seiz.2000.0421.


Although literature in this area is relatively sparse, the occurrence of psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (pseudoseizures) has been linked to stress, anxiety and possible dissociative tendencies. An association between dissociation and hypnotic susceptibility has also been proposed and dissociative tendencies have themselves been found to relate to the use of emotion-focused coping strategies. In order to investigate the hypothesis that pseudoseizure patients may exhibit higher levels of dissociation, a more emotion-focused coping style, and greater hypnotic susceptibility than the general population, the questionnaire responses of 20 patients with pseudoseizures were compared with those obtained from a non-clinical control group. As predicted, pseudoseizure patients demonstrated some evidence of higher levels of dissociation and escape-avoidance coping strategies. They also expressed a greater belief in external control over health and higher depression scores, compared to the control group, but the previously reported elevation in hypnotizability scores in the pseudoseizure patients was not found. Possible explanations for this pattern of results are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dissociative Disorders*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis*
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Seizures / psychology*
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology