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What is a Conversion Disorder?
Conversion disorder is a condition in which patients present with neurological symptoms such as
numbness, blindness, paralysis, or fits without a neurological cause. It is thought that these
problems arise in response to difficulties in the patient's life, and conversion is considered a
psychiatric disorder in DSM-IV. The DSM-IV classifies conversion disorder as a somatoform
disorder while the ICD-10 classifies it as a dissociative disorder.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition defines conversion disorder as follows:
✔ One or more symptoms or deficits are present that affect voluntary motor or sensory function suggestive of a
neurologic or other general medical condition.
✔ Psychological factors are judged, in the clinician's belief, to be associated with the symptom or deficit because
conflicts or other stressors precede the initiation or exacerbation of the symptom or deficit. A diagnosis where the
stressor precedes the onset of symptoms by up to 15 years is not unusual.
✔ 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.
The nature of the association between the psychological factors and the neurological symptoms