Are psychogenic non-epileptic seizures just another symptom of conversion disorder?

Richard A.A. Kanaan*, Roderick Duncan, Laura H. Goldstein, Joseph Jankovic, Andrea E. Cavanna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) are classified with other functional neurological symptoms as 'Conversion Disorder', but there are reasons to wonder whether this symptomatology constitutes a distinct entity. Methods: We reviewed the literature comparing PNES with other functional neurological symptoms. Results: We find eight studies that directly examined this question. Though all but one found significant differences - notably in presenting age, trauma history, and dissociation - they were divided on whether these differences represented an important distinction. Conclusion: We argue that the aetiological and mechanistic distinctions they support, particularly when bolstered by additional data, give reason to sustain a separation between these conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-429
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Issue number5
Early online date24 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2017

Bibliographical note

© Article author(s) (or their employer(s) unless otherwise stated in the text of the article) 2017. All rights reserved. No commercial use is permitted unless otherwise expressly granted.


  • aetiology
  • functional neurological disorder
  • mechanism
  • nosology
  • psychogenic movement disorder


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