Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 65 (4), 695-700

Childhood Family Dysfunction and Associated Abuse in Patients With Nonepileptic Seizures: Towards a Causal Model


Childhood Family Dysfunction and Associated Abuse in Patients With Nonepileptic Seizures: Towards a Causal Model

Peter Salmon et al. Psychosom Med.


Objective: A history of childhood sexual abuse is thought to characterize patients with nonepileptic seizures (NES). We tested the hypotheses: 1) that history of sexual abuse is more prevalent in patients with NES than in controls with epilepsy; 2) that such abuse is associated with NES, not directly but because it is a marker of family dysfunction; and 3) that family dysfunction and abuse are, in turn, linked to NES because they increase a general tendency to somatize.

Methods: We compared 81 patients with NES with 81 case-matched epilepsy patients, using questionnaires to elicit recollections of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse and family atmosphere and to quantify current somatization.

Results: Although each form of abuse was more prevalent in NES patients, only child psychological abuse uniquely distinguished NES from epilepsy. However, its association with NES was explained by family dysfunction. A general tendency to somatize explained part of the relationship of abuse to NES.

Conclusions: Abuse therefore seems to be a marker for aspects of family dysfunction that are associated with--and may therefore cause--somatization and, specifically, NES.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 3 PubMed Central articles

  • Life Events and Escape in Conversion Disorder
    TR Nicholson et al. Psychol Med 46 (12), 2617-26. PMID 27377290.
    Evidence was found supporting the psychological model of CD, the Freudian notion of escape and the potential aetiological relevance of childhood traumas in some patients. …
  • A Therapeutic Approach to Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures
    MA Haykal et al. Curr Treat Options Neurol 17 (9), 371. PMID 26249826.
    The diagnosis of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) is usually made in the seizure monitoring unit (SMU; also commonly named the epilepsy monitoring unit) after PNE …
  • Functional Symptoms in Neurology: Questions and Answers
    M Reuber et al. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 76 (3), 307-14. PMID 15716517. - Review
    Between 10 and 30% of patients seen by neurologists have symptoms for which there is no current pathophysiological explanation. The objective of this review is to answer …

MeSH terms