Archive for the ‘conversion disorder’ Category

Neurological Link between Emotion and Hysterical Conversion found

January 8, 2010

In 1895, Freud hypothesized in his “Project for a Scientific Psychology”  that there was a link between the motor system and  emotions. Freud suggested that – in the absence of neurological findings – hysterical symptoms were the result of psychological processes i.e. “energy” was being diverted from the psychic system into the motor system when memories and their related affect could not be dealt with. A new study by Yann Cojan  has found similar findings.

From the British Psychological Society Blog…..”A new brain imaging study shows the difference, in terms of brain activity, between a person feigning having a paralysed arm and a patient with conversion paralysis – that is, paralysis with no clinically identifiable neurological cause.

Conversion paralysis is one manifestation of conversion disorder, previously known as hysteria, which was made famous by the nineteenth century French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot (pictured) and later, by his students Pierre Janet and Sigmund Freud. The label “conversion” disorder comes from the idea that an emotional complaint is somehow converted into a physical symptom.” (more…)

In the Psychiatrist’s Chair: Neurologists and Conversion disorder

November 18, 2009

In the psychiatrist’s chair: how neurologists understand conversion disorder

Richard Kanaan1, David Armstrong2, Philip Barnes3 and Simon Wessely1

1 Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s; College London, London, UK 2 Department of General Practice, King’s College London, London, UK 3 Department of Neurology, King’s College Hospital, London, UK

Correspondence to: Dr Richard Kanaan, Department of Psychological Medicine, P062, Weston Education Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5 9RJ, UK E-mail:r.kanaan@iop.kcl.ac.uk

from the abstract………Conversion disorder (‘hysteria’) was largely considered to be a neurological problem in the 19th century, but without a neuropathological explanation it was commonly assimilated with malingering. The theories of Janet and Freud transformed hysteria into a psychiatric condition, but as such models declinein popularity and a neurobiology of conversion has yet to be found, today’s neurologists once again face a disorder without an accepted model. This article explores how today’s neurologists understand conversion through in-depth interviews with 22 neurology consultants. The neurologists endorsed psychological models but did not understand their patients in such terms. Rather, they distinguished conversion from other unexplained conditions clinically by its severity and inconsistency. While many did not see this as clearly distinct from feigning, they did not feel that this was their problem to resolve. They saw themselves as ‘agnostic’ regarding non-neuropathological explanations. However, since neurologists are in some ways more expert in conversion than psychiatrists, their continuing support for the deception model is important, and begs an explanation. One reason for the model’s persistence may be that it is employed as a diagnostic device, used to differentiate between those unexplained symptoms that could, in principle, have a medicalexplanation and those that could not. Click here for full pdf article


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