Conversion disorder is one of a group of psychological disorders called somatoform disorders. These disorders are marked by the presence of physical symptoms without there being any physical ailment. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) (2000) “the symptoms must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning” (485).
Although conversion disorder is in the category of somatoform disorders, C.V. is marked by a deficiency affecting voluntary motor or sensory functioning. Essentially, conversion disorder ...view middle of the document...
• Psychologic factors are judged to be associated with the symptom or deficit because conflicts or other stressors precede the initiation or exacerbation of the symptom or deficit.
• The symptom or deficit is not intentionally produced or feigned (as in factitious disorder or malingering).
• The symptom or deficit, after appropriate investigation, cannot be explained fully by a general medical condition, the direct effects of a substance, or as a culturally sanctioned behavior or experience.
• The symptom or deficit causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning or warrants medical evaluation.
• The symptom or deficit is not limited to pain or sexual dysfunction, does not occur exclusively during the course of somatization disorder, and is not better accounted for by another mental disorder.” (p. 498)
According to New York University’s Medical Center, “diagnosis of conversion disorder may be difficult initially because physical symptoms are most often caused by a physical disorder. It is important for the physician to consider a physical cause for the symptoms carefully. Patients will often be asked to undergo the following testing to rule out an underlying disease.
• Laboratory testing to rule out hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, kidney failure, or drug-related causes
• Imaging studies, such as chest x-rays or CT scans
• Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG) – a test that records heart activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle
• Spinal fluid examination to check for neurological causes
If no physical cause is detected, the patient may either be referred to a neurologist or for a psychiatric consultation.” (Borowski, p. 1)
Research by Owens and Dein showed, “although many in the medical profession have formed the impression that the prevalence of conversion disorders in developed countries is in decline, there is little recent information. Much of the information we have about prevalence is derived from earlier studies, which often suggest that conversion symptoms are relatively common. Farley findings in a study of 100 mothers of new born children suggested a lifetime prevalence of up to 33%. Engl estimated that 25% of patients admitted to general medical services had had conversion symptoms at some time in their lives. Stephansson estimated the annual incidence to be about 22 cases per 100 000.” (Owens & Dein, 2006)
In the United States, incidence has been reported to be 11-300 cases per 100,000 people. It’s also said that cultural factors may play a significant role. Symptoms that might be considered a conversion disorder in the US may be a normal expression of anxiety in other cultures.
Course Familial Pattern
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) (2000) “limited data suggest that conversion symptoms are...