The Hysteria Over Conversion Disorder

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The Hysteria Over Conversion Disorder

Scientists in fields connected to neurobiology and psychiatry remain mystified about the cause of Conversion Disorder. The disorder is characterized by physical symptoms of a neurological disorder, yet no direct problem can be found in the nervous system or other related systems of the body. This fact alone is not unusual; many diseases and symptoms have unknown origins. Conversion Disorder, however, seems to stem from "trivial" to traumatic psychological events and emotions rather than biological events. The extreme symptoms often disappear as quickly as they appear without the patient consciously controlling or feigning them. Thus, Conversion Disorder serves as a significant example of how blurred the conceived demarcated divisions of mind/body/behavior can be.

Conversion Disorder is diagnosed solely by its physical symptoms seen in patients. Symptoms can be divided up into three groups: sensory, motor and visceral. Sensory symptoms include anesthesia, analgesia, tingling, and blindness. Motor symptoms may consist of disorganized mobility, tremors, tics, or paralysis of any muscle groups including vocal cords. Visceral functions include spells of coughing, vomiting belching, and trouble swallowing (1). Most of these symptoms are strikingly similar to existing neurological disorders that have definitive organic causes. Conversion Disorder, on the other hand, defies the nerve patterns and functions from which the symptoms should follow. CT scans and MRIs of patients with Conversion Disorder exclude the possibility of a lesion in the brain or spinal cord, an electroencephalograph rules out a true seizure disorder, and spinal fluid eliminates the possibility of infections or ot...

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...ies in the seeming dichotomy between mind and body. This dichotomy however remains a created one for the benefit of our own understanding. Yet, in the case of Conversion Disorder, delineated scientific thinking seems to have prevented our understanding rather than facilitating it; by inspecting the trees, we are missing the forest.



2)Emedicine: Instant access to the minds of medicine., Dufel, Susan M.D. "Conversion Disorder".

3)Parobek, Virginia M."Distinguishing conversion disorder from neurologic impairment".Journal of Neuroscience Nursing. 04/97. Volume 29. Number 2. p. 128.

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