Comparative study of trauma-related phenomena in subjects with pseudoseizures and subjects with epilepsy

Am J Psychiatry. 2002 Apr;159(4):660-3. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.159.4.660.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine potential differences in measures of trauma-related phenomena between subjects with pseudoseizures and subjects with intractable epilepsy.

Method: Thirty-one adult subjects with pseudoseizures and 32 subjects with intractable epilepsy (confirmed by video-EEG) were recruited from the epilepsy unit of a tertiary care hospital. Each participant completed the Impact of Event Scale, the Davidson Trauma Scale, the Mississippi Scale for Combat-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the Dissociative Experience Scale, and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, as well as demographic, seizure history, and family functioning measures.

Results: Subjects with pseudoseizures had significantly higher mean scores on the Davidson Trauma Scale, Mississippi Scale for Combat-Related PTSD, Impact of Event Scale, and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index than subjects with epilepsy. In addition, a significantly higher percentage of subjects with pseudoseizures had scores above the clinical cutoff level of 30 on the Dissociative Experience Scale.

Conclusions: Subjects with pseudoseizures exhibited trauma-related profiles that differed significantly from those of epileptic comparison subjects and closely resembled those of individuals with a history of traumatic experiences. Interventions aimed at trauma-related issues may be beneficial for patients with pseudoseizures.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Risk Factors
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*