Epilepsy, pseudoseizures and perceived family characteristics: a controlled study

Epilepsy Res. 1994 May;18(1):75-83. doi: 10.1016/0920-1211(94)90035-3.


Previous research in the area of pseudoseizures has focused upon their phenomenology and the characteristics of the individual with pseudoseizures. This study set out to examine the role of pseudoseizure behaviour in fulfilling a function within the family context. Pseudoseizure patients, patients with epilepsy and healthy controls completed questionnaires measuring the following variables--anxiety and depression, locus of control, self-esteem, family characteristics and perceived seizure severity. People with pseudoseizures perceived their families as displaying less commitment and support to each other (family Cohesion scale) and less emphasis on ethical issues and values (family Moral-religious scale) than both the epilepsy and the control groups. People with pseudoseizures reported levels of family interest in political, social and recreational activities (family Intellectual-cultural scale) similar to people with epilepsy, both these group scores being lower than the control group. The two patient groups also reported higher depression scores than controls, yet only the epilepsy group had lower self-esteem than the controls. These initial findings support a role of family involvement in therapy for people with pseudoseizures and may lead to a better understanding of the aetiology of pseudoseizures, as well as clarifying characteristics which may well aid the differentiation of pseudoseizures from epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Self Concept
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology*