Natural history and outcome of psychogenic seizures: a clinical study in 50 patients

J Neurol. 1990 Feb;237(1):35-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00319665.


The natural history and the outcome of psychogenic seizures was studied in 50 patients by retrospective analysis and follow-up after a mean of 2 years. Concomitant epilepsy was definite in only 8% and possible in 14%, while 50% took anticonvulsants. Overall, 66% of patients showed heterogeneous psychiatric abnormalities, most commonly a depressive syndrome (24%), whereas hysterical personality features were rare (8%). Forty-two percent of patients were unemployed. Follow-up of 41 patients (82%) showed that 34% had become seizure free. Outcome was poor in those with a long history of psychogenic seizures and pathological psychiatric findings. In contrast, almost all patients with recent onset of psychogenic seizures and normal psychological status had become seizure free. At follow-up, 56% of patients were found to be in a poor or very poor state, which resulted from a combination of physical, psychic and social problems in most cases.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Conversion Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / diagnosis*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class