Diagnosis, management and prognosis of a group of 128 patients with non-epileptic attack disorder. Part II. Previous childhood sexual abuse in the aetiology of these disorders

Seizure. 1992 Mar;1(1):27-32. doi: 10.1016/1059-1311(92)90051-2.


In a group of female in-patients clinically diagnosed as having non-epileptic attack disorder there was an increased incidence of a proven previous history of sexual abuse in childhood, when compared with a group of women with epilepsy and a group of women with other psychiatric disorders admitted to the same ward. This was particularly true of women with the 'swoon' and 'abreactive' type of non-epileptic attack disorder (see Part I). The incidence of a history of previous abuse was similar to the two control groups for other types of non-epileptic attack disorder. The swoon was seen as a cut-off phenomenon: the abreactive attack as a kind of acting out the memory of the abuse, part of a post-traumatic stress disorder. Both may respond to counselling for the abuse although it is too early to be certain, and there is a risk of further episodes of the non-epileptic attack disorder during periods of stress. Some patients with epilepsy, however, also had a history of previous sexual abuse: in some the stress of the abuse may have precipitated the epileptic seizures.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / complications*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / complications
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hysteria / diagnosis
  • Hysteria / therapy
  • Male
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Prognosis
  • Psychotherapy
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology