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Epilepsy Behav. 2011 Feb;20(2):331-3. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2010.11.015.

Emotional trauma and abuse in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures.

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Neuropsychiatry Program, Institute and Department of Psychiatry, Hospital das Clínicas, University of São Paulo Faculty of Medicine, São Paulo, Brazil.


A history of childhood trauma and the presence of dissociative phenomena are considered to be the most important risk factors for psychogenic nonepileptic seizure disorder (PNESD). This case-control study investigated 20 patients with PNESD and 20 with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) diagnosed by video/EEG monitoring who were matched for gender and age. Patients with both conditions were not included in the study. Groups were evaluated for age at onset and at diagnosis, worst lifetime weekly seizure frequency, trauma history, and presence of dissociative phenomena. Age at onset (P=0.007) and age at diagnosis (P<0.001) were significantly higher in the PNESD group than the control group, as were the scores on the Dissociative Experiences Scale (P<0.001) and Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (P=0.014). Only the differences in scores on the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire subscales Emotional Neglect (P=0.013) and Emotional Abuse (P=0.014) reached statistical significance. Dissociative phenomena and a reported history of childhood trauma are more common in patients with PNESD than in those with TLE. However, only emotional neglect and abuse were associated with PNESD in this study.

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