Pseudoseizures, families, and unspeakable dilemmas

Psychosomatics. Mar-Apr 1998;39(2):144-53. doi: 10.1016/S0033-3182(98)71361-1.


Fourteen videotaped family interviews of patients with diagnosed pseudoseizures were studied to determine the relationship of the symptoms to unspeakable dilemmas as forced choices imposed by family or social circumstances under conditions that also require the ensuing distress to be hidden. An unspeakable dilemma was evident in 13 of 14 interviews, with the patient the most silent family member in 13 interviews. In six cases, there was revealed a realistic threat of physical or sexual assault to a person involved in the problem, although not always the patient. These findings point to an important role for family therapy skills in the evaluation and treatment of pseudoseizures.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Conversion Disorder / complications
  • Factitious Disorders / complications
  • Family / psychology*
  • Family Health*
  • Family Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / complications
  • Seizures / psychology*
  • Seizures / therapy
  • Somatoform Disorders / complications