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October 1, 1993

Nonepileptic seizures and childhood sexual and physical abuse

October 1993 issue
43 (10) 1950

Abstract

Nonepileptic seizures (NES) must be distinguished from epilepsy to avoid the adverse effects of unnecessary antiepileptic drugs and to initiate appropriate psychiatric treatment. A higher frequency of prior sexual abuse has been suspected in NES, although no prospective controlled study has compared patients with NES and epilepsy, A series of patients with conversion disorder presenting as epilepsy and 140 patients with complex partial epilepsy (CPE) without evidence of conversion were selected from a series of consecutive admissions to a comprehensive epilepsy center. The groups did not differ with respect to age, years of education, race, or marital status, but the percentage of women was greater in the conversion NES group (73.2%) than in the CPE control group (50.7%; p < 0.002). The frequency of a history of sexual or physical abuse was greater in the NES group (32.4%) than in the CPE controls (8.6%; p < 0.000). Severity of sexual but not physical abuse was significantly greater in the NES group relative to controls (p < 0.05). There was a trend for a closer relationship of the perpetrator of sexual abuse to the victim among the NES patients compared with CPE controls (p < 0.1). These results support the impression that childhood abuse is more common among patients with conversion NES than with epilepsy, and suggests that in some cases childhood abuse may be a contributory pathogenetic factor.

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Published In

Neurology®
Volume 43Number 10October 1993
Pages: 1950
PubMed: 8413951

Publication History

Published online: October 1, 1993
Published in print: October 1993

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Authors

Affiliations & Disclosures

Kenneth Alper, MD
From the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology, New York University School of Medicine and the Hospital for Joint Diseases, New York, NY.
Orrin Devinsky, MD
From the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology, New York University School of Medicine and the Hospital for Joint Diseases, New York, NY.
Kenneth Perrine, PhD
From the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology, New York University School of Medicine and the Hospital for Joint Diseases, New York, NY.
Blanca Vazquez, MD
From the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology, New York University School of Medicine and the Hospital for Joint Diseases, New York, NY.
Daniel Luciano, MD
From the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology, New York University School of Medicine and the Hospital for Joint Diseases, New York, NY.

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  1. What are the Experiences of and Interventions for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse in South Asia? A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis, Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, (2024).https://doi.org/10.1177/15248380241231603
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  2. Optimism and pessimism as predictors of seizure group among patients with intractable seizure disorders, Epilepsy & Behavior, 140, (109094), (2023).https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2023.109094
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  3. Somatic symptoms in depression, Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 8, 2, (227-239), (2022).https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2006.8.2/hpkapfhammer
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  5. Functional seizures: Cluster analysis may predict the associated risk factors, Epilepsy & Behavior, 126, (108485), (2022).https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2021.108485
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  6. Functional/dissociative seizures: Review of its relationship with trauma, dissociation and the neurobiological underpinnings, Psychiatry Research Communications, 2, 4, (100071), (2022).https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psycom.2022.100071
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  7. Characteristics of men with conversion disorder, Epilepsy & Behavior, 114, (107556), (2021).https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2020.107556
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  8. Is sexual trauma a risk factor for functional (psychogenic) seizures?, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 128, (58-63), (2021).https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2021.06.019
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  9. From epileptic hysteria to psychogenic non epileptic seizure: Continuity or discontinuity for contemporary psychiatry?, European Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 5, 1, (100190), (2021).https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejtd.2020.100190
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  10. Dissociation, Stressors, and Coping in Patients of Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures, Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 43, 6, (479-484), (2020).https://doi.org/10.1177/0253717620956460
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