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Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1992 Jun;15(2):301-10.

The simulation of neurologic disease.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.


Conversion symptoms are defined as symptoms that suggest neurologic disease but have no explanation after appropriate evaluation including physical examination, laboratory studies, and appropriate radiographic and other imaging studies. Conversion symptoms are more common in young women as compared with other groups. Conversion symptoms may be seen in essentially all psychiatric illness categories and are especially common in Briquet's syndrome and antisocial personality disorder. They are also seen in patients with neurologic disorders, including seizure disorder, central nervous system tumor, head injury, and multiple sclerosis. Family members of patients with conversion symptoms have a heterogeneous mixture of psychiatric illnesses parallel to the heterogeneous conditions seen in the probands. Psychosocial stressors and compensation factors, including monetary and legal aspects, appear to play important roles in many cases of conversion symptoms. Most individual conversion symptoms resolve, but the individual patient may experience other conversion symptoms as well as experience difficulty as a result of comorbid psychiatric illness.

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