The utility of electromyographic biofeedback in the treatment of conversion paralysis

Am J Psychiatry. 1988 Dec;145(12):1572-5. doi: 10.1176/ajp.145.12.1572.


Conversion paralysis has a poor prognosis when there is evidence of nonresponse to previous treatment, long duration, and secondary atrophy of the "paralyzed" muscles. The authors present four such cases in which conversion paralysis was treated successfully by means of electromyographic (EMG) biofeedback. Each of the four patients also suffered from a chronic pain condition. Results from statistical analyses indicated that the four patients demonstrated significant improvement in the functional capacity of the "paralyzed" muscles as measured by isometric maximum voluntary contraction and EMG activity. The improvements occurred without explicit psychotherapy and suggest that behavioral modification techniques alone may be helpful in such cases.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biofeedback, Psychology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Conversion Disorder / psychology
  • Conversion Disorder / therapy*
  • Electromyography*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Pain Management
  • Paralysis / psychology
  • Paralysis / therapy*