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J Korean Med Sci. 2003 Aug;18(4):581-4.

Paradoxical therapy in conversion reaction.

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Department of Psychiatry, Duzce Faculty of Medicine, Abant Izzet Baysal University, Duzce, Turkey.


Paradoxical therapy consists of suggesting that the patient intentionally engages in the unwanted behaviour such as performing compulsive ritual or wanting a conversion attack. In this study, the subjects were selected by the emergency unit psychiatrist from patients who were admitted to the emergency unit with pseudoseizure. The diagnoses was based on DSM-IV criteria. Paradoxical intention was applied to half of the 30 patients with conversion disorders; the other half were treated with diazepam in order to examine the efficiency of the paradoxical intention versus diazepam. In both groups the differences of the anxiety scores at the beginning of the study were found to be insignificant (z=1.08, p=0.28). Of the 15 patients who completed paradoxical intention treatment, 14 (93.3%) responded favorably to paradoxical intention. On the other hand of 15 patients who completed diazepam therapy, 9 (60%) responded well to therapy and 6 patients carried on their conversion symptoms at the end of 6 weeks. Paradoxical intention-treated patients appeared to have greater improvements in anxiety scores (z=2.43, p<0.015) and conversion symptoms (t=2.27, p=0.034) than the diazepam-treated patients. The results of the present study are encouraging in that paradoxical intention can be effective in the treatment of conversion disorder.

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