Resilience linked to personality dimensions, alexithymia and affective symptoms in motor functional neurological disorders

J Psychosom Res. 2018 Apr:107:55-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2018.02.005. Epub 2018 Feb 13.


Objective: Reduced resilience, a construct associated with maladaptive stress coping and a predisposing vulnerability for Functional Neurological Disorders (FND), has been under-studied compared to other neuropsychiatric factors in FND. This prospective case-control study investigated self-reported resilience in patients with FND compared to controls and examined relationships between resilience and affective symptoms, personality traits, alexithymia, health status and adverse life event burden.

Methods: 50 individuals with motor FND and 47 healthy controls participated. A univariate test followed by a logistic regression analysis investigated group-level differences in Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC) scores. For within-group analyses performed separately in patients with FND and controls, univariate screening tests followed by multivariate linear regression analyses examined factors associated with self-reported resilience.

Results: Adjusting for age, gender, education status, ethnicity and lifetime adverse event burden, patients with FND reported reduced resilience compared to controls. Within-group analyses in patients with FND showed that individual-differences in mental health, extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness positively correlated with CD-RISC scores; post-traumatic stress disorder symptom severity, depression, anxiety, alexithymia and neuroticism scores negatively correlated with CD-RISC scores. Extraversion independently predicted resilience scores in patients with FND. In control subjects, univariate associations were appreciated between CD-RISC scores and gender, personality traits, anxiety, alexithymia and physical health; conscientiousness independently predicted resilience in controls.

Conclusion: Patients with FND reported reduced resilience, and CD-RISC scores covaried with other important predisposing vulnerabilities for the development of FND. Future research should investigate if the CD-RISC is predictive of clinical outcomes in patients with FND.

Keywords: Conversion disorder; Functional movement disorders; Personality; Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures; Resilience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / complications
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Nervous System Diseases / complications
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / psychology*
  • Personality*
  • Resilience, Psychological*