Etiology and clinical course of pseudoseizures. Relationship to trauma, depression, and dissociation

Psychosomatics. Jul-Aug 1993;34(4):333-42. doi: 10.1016/S0033-3182(93)71867-8.


Twenty-seven outpatients with video-EEG-documented pseudoseizures were interviewed by a psychiatrist to determine the historical course of seizures and diagnose the current presence of these DSM-III-R diagnoses: affective disorders (85%), dissociative disorders (85%), and posttraumatic stress disorder (33%). Their mean (26.7) and median (26.9) Dissociative Experiences Scale scores were elevated. Eighty-eight percent of subjects had sustained significant trauma, including sexual abuse/rape (77%) and physical abuse (70%). Four psychodynamic pathways to pseudoseizures were noted. Most commonly, pseudoseizures originated from dissociated personalities or ego states, were expressions of dissociated memories of child abuse, and were triggered by recent stresses or traumas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Team
  • Personality Assessment
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology