2002 issue 2


Volume 11, issue 2

Review papers

Dissociative disorders in clinical practice

Krzysztof Owczarek1
1. Klinika Neurologii i Epileptologii Centrum Medycznego Kształcenia Podyplomowego w Warszawie
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii, 2002, 11, 131-137
Keywords: dissociative disorders, somatization, conversion, psychogenic pseudoepileptic seizures, anxiety, MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory)


Dissociative disorders (formerly known as hysterical) are clinical events unrelated to any physiologic dysfunction, but resembling symptoms of an organic disease. Due to their rich symptomatology all over the world dissociative disorders are the cause of many unnecessary hospital admissions, medical examinations and even surgical interventions involving considerable and needless expenses. Patients suffering from such personality disorders are usually incorrectly diagnosed and treated symptomatically only. In view of insufficient diagnostic criteria and a lack of effective management strategies physicians see their role with this group of patients primarily as limited to the exclusion of a serious organic disease. The problem becomes even more complicated in cases of dissociative disorders concurrent with a real organic disease. Epileptic patients with psychogenic pseudoepileptic seizures are an example of this dual condition. Results of a study using MMPI suggest that the presence of these two types of seizures is reflected in an elevation of anxiety factors in the personality profile. Research findings indicate that to reduce the development of dissociative disorders the treatment should be focused on amelioration of anxiety and depression, which might lead to an increased satisfaction of these patients and to their more efficient coping with daily life problems.

Address for correspondence:
Adres: Dr Krzysztof Owczarek, Klinika Neurologii i Epileptologii Centrum Medycznego Kształcenia Podyplomowego,
ul. Czerniakowska 231, 00-416 Warszawa