Are psychogenic non-epileptic seizures just another symptom of conversion disorder?

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2017 May;88(5):425-429. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2017-315639. Epub 2017 Feb 24.


Background: Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) are classified with other functional neurological symptoms as 'Conversion Disorder', but there are reasons to wonder whether this symptomatology constitutes a distinct entity.

Methods: We reviewed the literature comparing PNES with other functional neurological symptoms.

Results: We find eight studies that directly examined this question. Though all but one found significant differences-notably in presenting age, trauma history, and dissociation-they were divided on whether these differences represented an important distinction.

Conclusion: We argue that the aetiological and mechanistic distinctions they support, particularly when bolstered by additional data, give reason to sustain a separation between these conditions.

Keywords: aetiology; functional neurological disorder; mechanism; nosology; psychogenic movement disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Conversion Disorder / classification
  • Conversion Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Conversion Disorder / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Seizures / psychology*