Learn About Conversion Disorder

What is the definition of Conversion Disorder?

Conversion disorder is a mental condition in which a person has blindness, paralysis, or other nervous system (neurologic) symptoms that cannot be explained by medical evaluation.

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What are the alternative names for Conversion Disorder?

Functional neurological symptom disorder; Hysterical neurosis

What are the causes of Conversion Disorder?

Conversion disorder symptoms may occur because of a psychological conflict.

Symptoms usually begin suddenly after a stressful experience. People are at risk of conversion disorder if they also have:

  • A medical illness
  • A dissociative disorder (escape from reality that is not on purpose)
  • A personality disorder (inability to manage feelings and behaviors that are expected in certain social situations)

People who have conversion disorder are not making up their symptoms in order to obtain shelter, for example (malingering). They are also not intentionally injuring themselves or lying about their symptoms just to become a patient (factitious disorder). Some health care providers falsely believe that conversion disorder is not a real condition and may tell people that the problem is all in their head. But this condition is real. It causes distress and cannot be turned on and off at will.

The physical symptoms are thought to be an attempt to resolve the conflict the person feels inside. For example, a woman who believes it is not acceptable to have violent feelings may suddenly feel numbness in her arms after becoming so angry that she wanted to hit someone. Instead of allowing herself to have violent thoughts about hitting someone, she experiences the physical symptom of numbness in her arms.

What are the symptoms of Conversion Disorder?

Symptoms of a conversion disorder include the loss of one or more bodily functions, such as:

  • Blindness
  • Inability to speak
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis

Common signs of conversion disorder include:

  • A debilitating symptom that begins suddenly
  • History of a psychological problem that gets better after the symptom appears
  • Lack of concern that usually occurs with a severe symptom
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What are the current treatments for Conversion Disorder?

Talk therapy and stress management training may help reduce symptoms.

The affected body part or physical function may need physical or occupational therapy until the symptoms go away. For example, a paralyzed arm must be exercised to keep the muscles strong.

Who are the top Conversion Disorder Local Doctors?
Elite
Highly rated in
11
conditions
Neurology
Psychiatry

Lifespan

Providence VA Medical Center

830 Chalkstone Ave 
Providence, RI 2908

William Lafrance is a Neurologist and a Psychiatrist in Providence, Rhode Island. Dr. Lafrance has been practicing medicine for over 27 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Conversion Disorder. He is also highly rated in 11 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Conversion Disorder, Seizures, Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizure, and Epilepsy. He is licensed to treat patients in Rhode Island. Dr. Lafrance is currently accepting new patients.

Elite
Highly rated in
9
conditions
Neurology
Psychiatry

Mass General Brigham

Partners TeleStroke Center

15 Parkman St 
Boston, MA 2114

David Perez is a Neurologist and a Psychiatrist in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Perez has been practicing medicine for over 15 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Conversion Disorder. He is also highly rated in 9 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Conversion Disorder, Seizures, Camptocormism, and Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizure. He is licensed to treat patients in Massachusetts. Dr. Perez is currently accepting new patients.

 
 
 
 
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Elite
Highly rated in
26
conditions
Neurology

UAB Medicine

UAB Medicine Physicians

2000 6th Ave S 
Birmingham, AL 35233

Jerzy Szaflarski is a Neurologist in Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. Szaflarski has been practicing medicine for over 31 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Conversion Disorder. He is also highly rated in 26 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Seizures, Epilepsy, Conversion Disorder, and Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizure. He is licensed to treat patients in Indiana and Ohio. Dr. Szaflarski is currently accepting new patients.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Conversion Disorder?

Symptoms usually last for days to weeks and may suddenly go away. Usually the symptom itself is not life threatening, but complications can be debilitating.

When should I contact a medical professional for Conversion Disorder?

See your provider or mental health professional if you or someone you know has symptoms of a conversion disorder.

What are the latest Conversion Disorder Clinical Trials?
Neuroimaging Biomarker for Seizures
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Contribution of Inflammation and Neuronal Integrity Markers in Patients With First-episode Conversive Motor Disorder
What are the Latest Advances for Conversion Disorder?
The Role of Physiotherapy in the Management of Functional Neurological Disorder in Children and Adolescents.
Six-month outcomes of the CODES randomised controlled trial of cognitive behavioural therapy for dissociative seizures: A secondary analysis.
Tired of the same old research?
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A Case of Chronic Functional Parkinsonism Treated Over 10 Years for the Diagnosis of Juvenile Parkinsonism.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: November 07, 2020
Published By: Fred K. Berger, MD, addiction and forensic psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

American Psychiatric Association. Conversion disorder (functional neurological symptom disorder). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013:318-321.

Cottencin O. Conversion disorders: psychiatric and psychotherapeutic aspects. Neurophysiol Clin. 2014;44(4):405-410. PMID: 25306080 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25306080/.

Gerstenblith TA, Kontos N. Somatic symptom disorders. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 24.