Motor conversion symptoms and pseudoseizures: a comparison of clinical characteristics

Psychosomatics. 2004 Nov-Dec;45(6):492-9. doi: 10.1176/appi.psy.45.6.492.


The authors prospectively studied consecutive neurological inpatients with either motor conversion symptoms or pseudoseizures of recent onset. Patients were administered a structured psychiatric diagnostic interview, a measure of perceived parental care, and a life events inventory. They found that patients with pseudoseizures (N=20, mean age=27 years): 1) were younger than patients with motor conversion symptoms (N=30, mean age=39 years), 2) were more likely to have a borderline personality disorder), 3) were more likely to have a lower perception of parental care and to report incest, and 4) reported more life events in the 12 months before symptom onset. These differences in their characteristics and associated factors raised the question of whether it is helpful to group patients with pseudoseizures and motor conversion symptoms in a single diagnostic category of conversion disorder. An alternative view, that gives primacy to the symptoms rather than a disorder, may enable more precise research questions to be posed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Conversion Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Seizures / diagnosis*
  • Severity of Illness Index