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The Hysteria Over Conversion Disorder

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Biology 202
2003 Second Web Paper
On Serendip

The Hysteria Over Conversion Disorder

Neela Thirugnanam

Scientists in fields connected to neurobiology and psychiatry remain mystified about the cause of Conversion Disorder. The disorder is characterized by physical symptoms of a neurological disorder, yet no direct problem can be found in the nervous system or other related systems of the body. This fact alone is not unusual; many diseases and symptoms have unknown origins. Conversion Disorder, however, seems to stem from "trivial" to traumatic psychological events and emotions rather than biological events. The extreme symptoms often disappear as quickly as they appear without the patient consciously controlling or feigning them. Thus, Conversion Disorder serves as a significant example of how blurred the conceived demarcated divisions of mind/body/behavior can be.

Conversion Disorder is diagnosed solely by its physical symptoms seen in patients. Symptoms can be divided up into three groups: sensory, motor and visceral. Sensory symptoms include anesthesia, analgesia, tingling, and blindness. Motor symptoms may consist of disorganized mobility, tremors, tics, or paralysis of any muscle groups including vocal cords. Visceral functions include spells of coughing, vomiting belching, and trouble swallowing (1). Most of these symptoms are strikingly similar to existing neurological disorders that have definitive organic causes. Conversion Disorder, on the other hand, defies the nerve patterns and functions from which the symptoms should follow. CT scans and MRIs of patients with Conversion Disorder exclude the possibility of a lesion in the brain or spinal cord, an electroencephalograph rules out a true seizure disorder, and spinal fluid eliminates the possibility of infections or other causes of neurological symptoms (2). The abnormal behavior shown in Conversion Disorder cannot be accounted for biologically, and this fact has set off even more scientific theories about the many ways in which biology must explain the phenomena.

Optokinetic nystagmus (sub-cortically controlled steady tracking the eye followed by the fixation of the eye on another object) can still be observed in patients with apparent blindness when they are shown a rotating striped drum thus proving their correct operation (2). Numb hands characterize a type of conversion disorder called "glove anesthesia"; the sensitivity stops at the patient's wrists. This clear demarcation does not correlate to any known nerve pattern or function. Also, patients who show paralyzed arms with functioning shoulder muscles that work normally to correct posture of their truck contradicts what we know about how the nervous system is structured (3). These examples demonstrate how the symptoms the patients express belie a properly working nervous system. Knowledge of neurobiology, or lack of it, seems to influence how the symptoms play out in the patients. It has been shown that symptoms become more biologically traceable when the patient knows more about the body's physiological functioning. Learned information stored in the mind is used to determine the physical symptoms unconsciously expressed by the patient. The conscious functions of the mind can work unconsciously through the nervous system to effect behavior.

Treatment of Conversion Disorder primarily involves psychotherapy. Often patients go into spontaneous remission, or they have a complete recovery shortly after visiting a psychiatrist (2). Despite the effective psychological treatment, the patients are often incredulous when told their symptoms are "imaginary" or "mental". Because this is often counterproductive in the doctor-patient relationship, patients are not told that their condition is thought to be psychological; they are first treated as if the symptoms are organic (3). Associating "mental" with "imaginary" in the minds of the doctors indicates a powerful assumption that something that is controlled by the mind and expressed through the body is not "real" and therefore a feigned illness. The mind, with its intimate connection to the nervous system and behavior by way of the larger structure of the brain, is more than a superficial layer of us as humans. It too is a part of the body, and a schism in the mind, whether it initiates from military trauma, sexual abuse, or depression remains a very real source of physical and medical illness.

This discussion of the distinctions of the mind and body are not new. Conversion Disorder was originally called "hysteria," and it has been described by documents hundreds of years old. The ancient Egyptians attributed it to a malpositioned or "wandering" uterus, and the name derives its meaning from this distinctly feminine problem. In the 1560's, the first documented study was done that claimed that "hysteria" was located in the mind rather than the body. Two hundred years later, the French neurologist Charcot hypothesized that hysteria originated from an organic weakness of the nervous system. Sigmund Freud became captivated by this idea and eventually replaced "hysteria" with the term "conversion" because he theorized that the symptoms were "intrapsychic conflicts" manifested (or converted) physically in the patient (3). This progression towards the psychological has been reflectively inverted in recent theory.

Increasingly, Conversion Disorder is being thought of and researched biologically rather than psychologically. Technology has supplied methods of testing elements of the nervous system, and yet no definitive causes have been identified. It has only recently become common thought that Conversion Disorder arises from some sort of collaboration between the mind and the nervous system (3). This distinction between the "mind" and the "nervous system " (and the revelatory idea that they are indeed related) demonstrates a crucial partition that most scientists seem to make between the two. In my view, the mind is the cognitive function of a larger concept, which can be called, as we do in class, "the brain". The brain encompasses both the biological stratum of the nervous system as well as the cognitive stratum of the mind. As debates over Conversion Disorder show, they are interrelated. The nervous system does not only determine the mind, but it too can be influenced by the mind. To attempt to divide them for study may be useful, but their ultimate relationship should not be permanently separated. Parobek describes the state of Conversion Disorder as a "Tower of Babel that obscures accurate identification and nomenclature" (3). This is true in that, like the myth, the relationship between the two elements of the brain create a confusing cacophony of precise causation because that is its inherent structure. Nomenclature is a system of understanding and representing, and if the construction of the Tower of Babel and Conversion Disorder cannot be contained within one language or one scientific discipline, then perhaps the nomenclature and the building of scientific research needs to broadened to include more "multi-lingiustic" elements. The total functioning of the nervous system and the mind meets, exists, and functions together in what is more appropriately called "the brain," and the brain, as a whole, determines behavior.

To understand Conversion Disorder completely will probably require a more multi-discipline approach instead of trying to locate its cause and process on a purely biologic level. When trying to pinpoint whether a patient's symptoms hail from "real" or malingering sources, the observed difficulty lies in the seeming dichotomy between mind and body. This dichotomy however remains a created one for the benefit of our own understanding. Yet, in the case of Conversion Disorder, delineated scientific thinking seems to have prevented our understanding rather than facilitating it; by inspecting the trees, we are missing the forest.




2)Emedicine: Instant access to the minds of medicine., Dufel, Susan M.D. "Conversion Disorder".

3)Parobek, Virginia M."Distinguishing conversion disorder from neurologic impairment".Journal of Neuroscience Nursing. 04/97. Volume 29. Number 2. p. 128.
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Continuing conversation
(to contribute your own observations/thoughts, post a comment below)

11/04/2005, from a Reader on the Web

` I was just wandering the internet and I saw this page on conversion disorder. I've had that for a couple years as a result of being traumatized by torture. ` I knew that people could become blind from something horrible happening in their lives, and I figured that the sense of touch could be affected as well. ` I have fairly bad numbness all over my body wherever any part of me touches anything - the fronts of my fingertips, the bottoms of my feet, the upper parts of my ears (where my hair is), my eyeballs, the part of my tongue that presses against the roof of my mouth, etc, which is a pretty irritating handicap. Thankfully, my neurologist was unable to find anything. ` I must say it's a relief that I finally know what this... THING is called, though I understand why my psychiatrist didn't tell me what it's caused by - nobody knows! All I know is that I feel a cold numbness wherever any part of my body presses up against anything at all. ` It's very weird and annoying, lemme tell ya, and I hate it so much. I can't walk very easily with shoes on, I fall down a lot, I have trouble picking things up, tasting and smelling things, feeling textures, not to mention I'm completely uninterested in certain... activities. ` Luckily, from what I see on the page, I suppose I can expect this will lift one of these days - or at least over a series of days, perhaps. That makes me feel better about this, as it's only been getting worse after a couple of brief periods in the beginning when it nearly seemed to wear off. ` My doctor says I can acheive this through not being afraid to touch things. Sounds simple, but... it's not very easy, in my situation. ` Mental numbness... neurological inability to recognize anything in the world except for faces... or being able to recognize faces but not other things... It's really crazy how many bizarre disorders human brains can undergo, isn't it? S E E Quine


Additional comments made prior to 2007
I have a friend who has been diagnosed with Conversion Disorder. What is the best way to deal with her mental/physical problems, without feeding her manipulation for attention? ... Dixie, 19 June 2006



I was diagnosed with conversion disorder back in 2000. When the doctor stated to me that I had the ability to shut down my body with my mind, I did not want to believe him. The problem I had with this disease/disorder made it more difficult to pin point as to why or how I contracted this condition. It was hard to explain to people with it being closely related to symptoms of Multiple Sclorosis. It wasn't until 2003 after going from job to job and not understanding why I had such a difficult time in keeping a job that I was told this condition was effecting me through stress. I had positions that were highly stressful. I found out that it was true disability that qualifies me for social security. My very first episode occurred when I was in high school. It was right before a major music concert that I was required to participate in for a grade. My mother and my grandmother were still alive and they were called to my school. It was the most difficult thing I ever went through. I could not move my body. I felt as if I was frozen in time. I could hear and still see what was going on around me but I could not respond. My mother was a nurse and the only explaination she could come up with, was that I wanted some attention. I started to believe for a long time that I was going crazy and losing my mind. No one wanted to believe that something was wrong with me. Now that I am 34 years old and going on 35 I must keep my stress level under control or I will go into severe spells of loss of voice, I feel that I am going blind, but when I go to the eye doctor he tells me that I have not changed my eye sight except by a small degree. I pray that some day soon they will come up with a reason why the body does this. When I turn 50 or I am in a nursing home no one will understand why it is I go through what I go through. Thanks for the clear information that helps to explain in clear depth what is going on with me. Now I am able to refer others to this information so they to can understand me. My right hand is not fully functioning, so I will bid you a good night and god bless ... S. Bronson, 28 August 2006



I have been diagnosed with conversion disorder,after going to 6 Doctors. I thought I was going crazy for awhile but this is really a type of sickness.I've been in a wheelchair since May of 2006.It really gets frustrating,I thought Iwas the only one with this problem.I have something like seizures, sometimes they don't stop and whenthey do I'm very disoriented.I had to get a cather put in because I can no longer go to the bathroom by myself.Is there some type of group for people with this disorder.Please let me know how you get through this ... Renee Wright, 6 March 2007


Serendip Visitor's picture

Conversion Disorder

In 2011 my ex husband pulled a shotgun from behind the door of our house as if he were going to shoot me and it took everything I had to get out of the house alive. My feet felt like they were made of cement and I was literally frozen and unable to flee the way a normal person would. I tried to scream but nothing but air came out and when I finally got away I was left with a trembling right arm. I have had this trembling since 2011. I went to several neurologists who diagnosed me with ARE YOU READY FOR THIS? Parkinsons! I said it started suddenly right after severe trauma and they still insisted I had parkinsons which aggravated the conversion disorder more. I still have the trembling arm because I received no therapy for anything and I am stuck in 2011 trauma. I am so exhausted.

Mspirit-21's picture

Converting from hell

OMG, i have this problem!
I start shaking, stuttering, become catatonic, paralyzed, and have had pseudo seizures since 2002. the symptoms just kept getting worse with the stuttering, catatonia and tics have been recent since my last failed suicide.

I've had MRI's, EEG's, sleep studies and more. I wake up form nightmares shaking so badly my body leaps off the bed.

I am diagnosed as having conversion & dissociative disorder, major depression/anxiaty, C-PTSD, somatoform and more.

I decided last year I would rather kill myself then live another day like this - its been 10 years now. I am very tired and can't get any services to help me. I finally got disability, but I can't live off of what they give me, DOE is garnishing the little they do give me, I am allergic to most anti-depressants (Medi-Cal won't fill my prescription for Cymbalta). I've gone with no meds or therapy for over 6 mths sonce returning to LA because I had to reapply for medicaid in SoCal. and I have no familiar support. I have an 8yo son, which is the only reason I am not dead.

The state of California won't pay for trauma therapy, which is the only way I have any chance of getting better. NYS does pay for this kind of therapy, but I had to leave because I couldn't continue to be away form my son, I had no money and place to live in NY beyond a year.

I made another suicide attempt in NY on Nov 6, 2013, because I realized it was useless. I was broke, because SoCal temp disability would go up to 3 mths without paying me, so I had no money to live (for food or meds) homeless; I was denied Medicaid the first time, because I had gotten too much money from unemployment the year before. I had to reapply after the new year, meanwhile I was getting very sick, so much worse due to the extreme stress I was under in NYC with no support.

I already know I will likely kill myself in the next few years if it doesn't get better, I am in physical pain and emotional anguish all the time. But the hardest thing is that I can no longer control or predict the conversion episodes. It starts with an overwhelming emotion I can't contain, I start crying hysterically and when I am finally exhausted I become completely checked out. I can't talk, walk, move, - it's very scary and I have to fight coming back to reality and to be present in my body.

Lynette's picture

Conversion Disorder

I have a trembling right arm that enables me to eat, cook, put make up on, etc and now I have a torn muscle in that arm and I am afraid to have surgery. I have had this for 5 years after my ex husband pulled a shotgun from behind the door in an attempt to shoot me and I barely made it out of the house. Within 3 minutes of this episode I had a trembling arm. I also have feelings of suicide because my arm hurts so bad from trembling 24/7. But suicide is not an option anymore because there may be a cure around the corner. It hurts, its embarrassing but hang in there

Serendip Visitor's picture

CD diagnosis

I have been diagnosed with CD since I collapsed 2 years ago. I currently use a walker or wheelchair for long distances. I saw neuropsychiatrist recently and told him I had collapsed 6 times and suffering crippling fatigue. He asked if I am due to be reassessed for my benefits andi said yes andhe implied I was making my illness sound worse for the secondary gain of higher benefits. I was absolutely staggered and hugely offended. Today I got my follow up letter which he knows I need to show for benefits, and it was only 4 lines long saying I had been suffering migraines. What he doesn't realise is my benefits don't run out for over a year, I thought he was asking about the new benefit the government are bringing in at some point. I have read that professionals look for for the patient to have some kind of secondary gain from being ill. Why would I pretend I can't walk?! My family see me every day and know I am genuine and how distressed I am, not to mention lonely as I can't get out. I am refused further tests as they think it would encourage me to believe I'm ill. I don't understand how I how suddenly gone to being a psychiatric patient due to this diagnosis. I feel the diagnosis makes me more ill than the illness !

Serendip Visitor's picture

How do you know when it is Conversion Disorder?

My daughter about 8 weeks ago was at Band camp when she felt light headed and then dizzy and then her right arm began to tremor. The tremor got worse that day and has not stopped. It doesn't get worse and it doesn't get better. In the past she was having migraines that would happen about twice a month, but since the tremor started she is having them 2 to 3 times a week. For the first few weeks after band camp she would have dizzy spells but they were sporadic, after a few weeks she gets dizzy every time she sits up or stands up. She has to use a walker every where she goes and after a few yards she gets quite fatigued. After 3 MRIs, 3 EEGs, 2 Chest Xray, 1 EKG, they have tipped toed around the words conversion disorder but formally said that there is no neurological reason for her symptoms and that she needs to see a psychologist or psychiatrist along with Physical Theropy and Occupational Theropy. There are so much conflicting information about Conversion Disorder that I don't know where to turn. I was researching on line tonight trying to find a Dr that specializes in conversion disorder, but no such luck it seems.

 Linda  Alfieri's picture

Conversion disorder

I was diagnosed with conversation disorder by 11 doctors many tests have been run over the last 13 years. Early in my diagnosis I saw a neurologist that did diagnosis me with MS. Over the years I have been treated for each symptom that has arose effectively . By various medications by my MS doctor which I think I have benefited from. I think doctors need to involve
Neurologist in the case so they can help with the symptoms that can become debiliting along with the psycholgist. My MRI was negative by the 11 doctors who diagnosed me. After doing research lately I realise that my symptoms mirror conversation disorder much more consistently than MS. Fortunately I have had the benefit. Of both the neurological and symptom management . It has not been a cure but I wanted to share my thoughts with you to hopefully help your daughter.

Serendip VisitorAnnette Taylor's picture

Chronic conversion disorder

13 yrs ago I woke up to get dressed for work and 2 hrs later I was paralyzed from the waist down. I have been to so many drs and specialists I lost track yrs ago. I have been in a wheel chair the whole time. In all theseyrs no one ever suggested that I see a therapist, if they had I would have been there in a flash. I had a boss who was bound and determined to get rid of me for reasons only she knows. I worked in a secretary of state office in Mi. That woman made my llfe a living hell. She embaressed me in front of customers, wrote me up for minor things that she was letting the other girls get away with. Every day I went in to work I never knew what the day would be like after 'good morning'. I had just gone through a bad divorce where I got the fuzzy end of the stick and I had only a high school ed. and no kind of formal training in any field. I needed this job to support myself and she knew it, especially after I bought a house,my mother had a mastectomy in '97, my only brodied in '97, six mths later my dad died in '98 and six mths after that I was in this chair. I would come home from work and be so exausted from her torture I cried myself to sleep many a night,wishing I did'nt have to go back thlere the next day. I am 73 yrs old, live alone and am still very independent.I have no control of my bowels of bladder and need assistance with house cleaning and shopping. Only a few weeks ago did I hear the term cd and it was like a gift from God that I could finally put a name to this. I have never lost faith that I would get out of this chair, and I will! Wed is my first appt and than it's all uphill. God has watched over me every second of these 13 yrs and I intend to do my best for Him when I get out of the chair.

Carah's picture

Well, I am a 20 year old who

Well, I am a 20 year old who was just currently diagnosed with conversion disorder, but it hasn't been fully diagnosed or cleared yet. Back in November, I became very ill and sick. A few days later I ended up with really bad chest pains. and they just told me that it was an upper respiratiory infection.
The day before Thanksgiving I was in a car accident. Latter that, I was feeling tired and weak all the time, with absolutely no motivation. At the beginning of December I had surgery to fix my broken nose, and the next morning I woke up with no feeling in my legs and feet, and other portions of my body. I was rushed to the ER. They did MRI's, CT Scans, X-rays, Lumbar Tap. Everything was showing negative. They weren't sure whether my car accident caused my paralysis of body. I was sent to CCU for 8 days, and 7 of those days they did an IVIG treatment for Guillian Barre. Note that at this time I was 19 years old. I ended up spending 22 straight days in the hospital. They tested me for Devics. transverse myelitis, MS, lymes disease. They still couldn't knock anything out. I went from working two jobs, and going to school full time to being so dependent on others. These last few months I have spent so much time in a wheelchair, in hospitals, in doctors officers. I just went to Wake Forest Baptist Health, and he forced me to make my body move etc. It's been hard, and I know it's going to be a hard road to get through, I am not 100% sure that this is what is wrong with my body, because after 3 months of physical therapy and using two canes, down to one, but still having no feeling in my legs, just doesn't seem exact. So, if anyone would like to share more information with me on this disorder, etc.Please do.

Shelby's picture

Have you found help?

My step-daughter is sitting in a psychiatric (pediatric) wing of the hospital right now dealing with this same type of condition. My heart goes out to her. What can I do to help her, please email me and give me some pointers. I am very upset for my husband and his ex wife and my stepdaughter.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Conversion Disorder Treatment

When my daughter was 15, after falling at the finish line at a school cross country meet, she landed on her hip and experienced immense pain. She fell Sept. 14 and after numerous doctors and hospital stays, her injury was finally, correctly diagnosed on Dec. 8th. But, it was too late as CD took hold of her mid October (her injury was incorrectly disgnosed, thus she went day in and day out in pain, only to be told by doctors that she was faking). Not only did CD beome a part of her condition, she lost her long term memory...we are a year and a half out from the injury, and she still has no long term memory. HOWEVER, after much research, we took her to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. They have a phenominal program for adolescents with CD. It is a three week, out patient program, where the parent(s) participate in the program too, apart from the kids, and are taught how to parent a child with CD. There is no place like it in the US! The Mayo Clinic saved our daughter!!! Highly encourage those with children with CD to call SAP and get your child accepted!!!

Serendip Visitor's picture

So much technology yet no answers

My husband was diagnosed with Conversion Disorder in early March 2012. After having a seizure one Saturday night in February and being life flighted to the hospital where he went through 10 days of every king of test you can imagine, all we came out with is 23 new seizures, a mystery diagnosis of Conversion Disorder, a walker and no follow up care instructions. So we came home and started the research. It was interesting to see how many cases that are out there. It was also very disheartening to see how vague the treatments were. I guess we were hoping for some sort of plan, some sort of cure. Instead, the only direction my husband was given was to de-stress. Well, please, if he was capable of doing that in the first place we probably wouldn't be in this situation. You would think with all the technology that we have and all the individuals afflicted with this disorder, the medical community and our wonderful insurance companies would have some other prescription than relax and de-stress. I fully understand there is no known biological cause for the psedo-seizures and paraysis that accompanies Conversion Disorder. But I do find it fascinating in the breakdown of communication between the brain and the paralized limbs and what is happening eletrically and chmically during these pseudo-seizures. Their has to be something measureable.
To all of those who are suffering, we feel your pain and wish you well. It looks like my husband is in it for the long haul. He license has been turned in due to the seizures. He can't work. We are anxiously trying to find something to help him. Bless you all.

Tracy's picture

I am a 47 year old woman and

I am a 47 year old woman and I, too have been diagnosed with Conversion Disorder, although I am skeptical. The past 8 months have been filled with MS-like symptoms, difficulty walking, talking, sometimes even feeding myself, and I've had 4 "seizures" to date, two of which have landed me in the hospital. I've gone from working 2 jobs to not being able to work at all. My family has had a "life alert" system put in for times when I'm home alone. I am desperate for answers!
The way things were explained to me was that I don't deal well with stress and need to learn how to. Made me so angry! Felt like they were saying that I am the cause of what's happening to me and that I just have to learn to "get over it". In fact, one nurse in the ER told me firmly to "Stop it!" while I was in the midst of a seizure! Believe me, if I could've stopped it I would have! It's probably a good thing I couldn't speak because I know I would have said some pretty hateful things right then.
I know there is definitely a problem in how my brain communicates with my body. Although I'm sure I could benefit from counseling to learn how to handle the stress I'm under just dealing with this, I have a hard time seeing how "relaxing and de-stressing" is going to make my legs work or help me regain bladder function.
Thank you for posting. I hope you don't mind my reply. It's just good to hear from someone else who is going through this, too. Blessings to you and your husband. Please tell him he's not the only one in this boat.

Anonymous's picture

I have just been diagnosed with Conversion Disorder

Hi. I was diagnosed with Conversion Disorder a about a week ago after being in the hospital for a week while they tried to figure out what was wrong with me. After looking at my past it seems to make sense now of the symptoms I have been having for years. I have had episodes of leg weakness and tiredness where I would have to stay in bed all day and rest. Over the last 5 years (I am now 20) the episodes have been getting worse each time and 4 months ago put me in the hospital but they discharged me after a day without an answer since I was better the next morning. Last week I was on my way to work and when I tried to get out of my car I couldn't move my legs. They moved me to a big research hospital and after a week they told me it was Conversion Disorder. I have always had trouble dealing with stress and emotions so it makes sense. They sent me home with a wheelchair and not much to go on as to how to get better other than to try to destress, so now I am just stuck hoping someday I will be able to walk again. The strangest part is that the leg weakness comes and goes. First thing in the morning my legs are almost normal and I even got up and walked a little but my legs soon gave out and I fell and had to have my mom pick me up and put me back in my wheelchair. I am even work on just trying to move them a little and sometimes I can lift my legs and sometimes I can't move them at all. It is so frustrating to feel like I've made some progress and feel like I can finally leave the chair behind and then my legs give out and I have to start all over again. It is really hard not to just give up and just stay in the chair because it would at least keep me from feeling so disappointed. But I so badly want to walk again so I will keep fighting and hopefully I can get through the barrier in my brain that is keeping me from walking.

Terry Steward's picture

Conversion Disorder

In 2005 I was shot multiple times while working in Iraq as a civilian truck driver. I was insured by AIG/Chartis. They are suppose to pay for all medical and psychological treatments relating to the injuries and to PTSD caused by the ambush I was in where several others were shot and injured and several were killed. In addition they (AIG) are required to pay benefits. On 12/31/2011, I had been on my computer with others who had been injured in Iraq and were/are having problems with AIG. These problems occupied my mind 24/7. I am only getting paid 56% of my benefits and have been really stressed over that. As I got up from my computer, I could not walk. I could not control my left leg. My left hand was numb and the left side of my face was numb. I fell to the floor and thought I was having a stroke. I was taken to our local hospital where I had a CAT scan. There was no evidence of a stroke and no evidence of heart problems. I was transferred to a large hospital in Boise. There they did a MRI and also tested the heart. No problems were detected. After two days a doctor kicked me out of the hospital. He said I came in for either a stroke or a heart problem and both the brain and the heart were normal. I was very angry because I could not walk yet he was discharging me without a diagnosis. A couple of days later I was able to see my main doctor, a physical rehabilitation doctor. He told me he read all the reports from the hospital and gave me a walking test. Then he told me was was positive I had Conversion Release (disorder). He told me the symptoms would go away on their own within two weeks. He also prescribed an anti depressant (Paxil). After almost two months my legs still feel like rubber and the left side of my face is still numb. I am also very dizzy. It is difficult to walk. Tomorrow, I am going back to see my neuro psychologist. I hope all the symptoms will go away soon. Sometimes I feel so weak that I think I am going to die. This is really weird.

visitor's picture

Husband with conversion disorder

Hi everyone,
I have been with my husband for almost 11 years now. Back in 2005 her was diagnosed with Conversion Disorder. He was under alot of stress at work. I was pregnant and that's how it all started. He saw a neurologist and a psychiatrist. That episode took 6 months from his life. He couldn't walk, saw six of everythign and at some points couldn't speak. I had to saty home to tke care of him, pregnant. He was admitted to thew hospital for hallucinations, which turned out to be an allergic reaction to lorazapam. He did recover but it was very tough on both of us and had to rely on his parents and the state to help us financially. We lost our truck. Now here is a second episode lasting sin Febuary of 2011, it is now Feb of 2012 and we are still going. He got tingling on one side of his body. Lost his voice and mentally he cannot remember things, his thoughts are a mess, he can't focus, concentrate. He seems like hew is in another world. They upped his meds he was already on but nothing is doing much. He is so stressed still and I am not sure if he will recovr anytime soon from this episode. We have 2 young shildren and it is hard for himto handle them and even I get on his nerves when I ask him to do simple things. It's like he's had a mental break. I'm doing all I can to hold this family together but I am very tired of all of the work. Praying for my husband always and hoping he will come around and be himself again. I don't want him to give up, which he may already have. Hang in there for those who are going through this. It is hard but remember someone always cares.

Chris's picture

Conversion disorder

Just wondering how u and your husband are doing? My wife has been diagnosed with CD Oct 3...I know how u guys are feeling... Just wondering how things are now

Serendip Visitor's picture

possible CD

Hello everyone! I am 33 yrs old and have not been diagnosed with CD, but I am pretty sure that is what I have. I have been suffering with symptoms for 4 years. When this began, my son was just born and I was getting very little sleep a night (1-2 hours) and I was working 10-14 hours overnight doing manual labor. I had twitches and shakes. Also, I sometimes stutter and have rubbery legs. I also have problems conveying emotion and my thoughts can be severely muddled (usually can't complete sentences.) Usually stress and anxiety triggers it. I have been to the ER and have been seen by a few general practitioners. I have yet to see a neurologist as I cannot afford to. I do not have insurance and am on a very limited budget. although my symptoms are not as bad as they once were, I still have them nearly everyday. Does anyone have any ideas on what I can do? I have not been given any definitive answers yet, but I am pretty sure this is what I have. Is there such thing as a pro-bono neurologist? Please help. Thanks!

MsEllie's picture

Conversion Disorder

Hello My 33 Year old friend.... I am 63 years old with Conversion Disorder. I had never heard of such and when they diagnosed it, I immediately went to research. So far, classic CD is in order. I am currently in a nursing facility where I'am receiving OT, PT, & Speech Therapy. My husband has not so understanding because I was in this same facility 2 1/2 years ago for a fractured/broke ankle. Had to learned to walk again. Ever since my second accident within a year, as I look back, the trauma of both accidents, having to take care of my husband who is also disabled, having to move twice, etc, etc, etc,...the stress, anxiety, depression, just to name a few mind things going on, it has landed me here in the nursing learning to walk again. I lost the ability to see, hear, talk, & walk all at the same time. Even though my speech & hearing are back and very keen, my speech needs work, but my legs are not walking. This all happened the week after Thanksgiving 2013. It's December 31st and celebrating the 2014 New Year here. One thing that I do know is that therapy is a MUST. But the first thing I really know is that God is in control. We all who are suffering from this, DO NOT GIVE IN TO THE EVIL OF THIS THING, LOOK FOR THE POSITIVE and ask yourself, what is it that you have learned about what brings it on.......STRESS, DEPRESSION & ANXIETY. I will say that I TRULY have FAITH that I will walk again. The HOPE IS IN GOD!!!

Serendip Visitor's picture

I think my daughter has had this for a long time

My daughter was 13 when this first happened. She woke up and could not get out of bed. She's been in pain and in a wheelchair ever since. I think I'm pretty sure what the trigger was....her school. We had moved around a lot, it didn't seem to faze my oldest one but for some reason my younger one who also has type 1 diabetes was never well-cared for at schools. That always made me angry and I usually had to get other people involved. I think this last school was her "last straw" her way of telling me enough I don't want to go back. Not to mention the school officials came to our home (when I was not there) and actually tried to force her to go to school with them (I think they touched her which could have triggered the whole event) That was on a Friday. She seemed ok over the weekend, we played tennis as she was going to try out for the team the following week. But as I look back, it was first thing Monday am when this happened. She's been in a horrible way ever since she's now 21. What a waste of 10 years, my heart is broken for her. We have tried everything. In the process of all of this we have discovered many serious other illnesses she had but didn't know about, they are being treated and she has had 4 tummy surgeries too. That's why is such a mystery, because she really has had weird things happen to her. Ever hear of "sphincter of oddi"? No one has, but she had it. Had to have her sphincter muscle cut. I think I am going to check out what some people have recommended on this forum. I may write an article sometime soon also. This disorder is so stigmatized by even the patient I don't know how anyone can get better. I think it's right up there with how depression was diagnosed about 40 years ago, it just wasn't. Peace out folks, anyone who has this or thinks they have this I wish you the best. I really do.

ANN's picture

conversion disorder

my god daughter E.V.P.age 31 was just dignosed with cd on 1-10-12 after several episodes since feb 2010 in which she was thought to have had a stroke but all test states she didnt this is the first i ve ever heard of cd an i have been the the nursing field for 17 years. after watching my Goddaughter suffer the lose of usage of her right side ,in a wheel chair, then after speech and ot,pt then progressing to a walker with a brace and having to wear adult pull ups.all i want is for it to stop and to have her primary doc to say its all in your head stap out of it makes me ill. waiting to schedule our first appt with the psychaistrist cause the neurelogist who saw her in the er states thats who she needs to see,we applied for disablity from the first episode thinking it was a stroke but not medical backing to determine that we were denied got a lawyer now just called them today with the NEW DIAGNOSIS CONVERSION DISORDER wondering what will her /our future hold i need financial assitance to help care for the young adult who obviously cant work.HELP!!!

Charlene Ross's picture

conversion disorder

I am interested in all comments regarding conversion disorder.



I was diagnosed witn Conversion Disorder after I went through five years of being treated for Parkinsons Disease. Tremors were the main reason I was dx'd with PD. The tremors stopped (except for when I am extremely stressed) but now I wake up every night after 3-4 hours of sleep. I also have many, many dreams in my sleep state, which is something that makes me very leary of going to sleep every night. I am exhausted and the dreams are so far out, they are scary.

'There is much more to this regarding the exchange of tremors for nightmares/dreams with my disorder. My main concern is that I don't feel like I can go on with this order. I am really scared.

Can anyone give me a shred of hope that I may one day get over this? What can I do in the meantime? Has anyone ever thought that death is better than having this condition? What is the treatment for this and how do I get it? Are there doctors who specialize in this disorder?

Please, please help.

Lynette's picture

Conversion Disorder

I have had a trembling arm for 4 years. I was told by 1st neurologist it was parkinsons. Went to 2nd neurologist and he said I had conversion disorder. Went to the 3rd neurologist and he said I had parkinsons. Went to the 4th neurologist and she said I had parkinsons. Went to the 5th neurologist and he said I had conversion disorder. Went to the final neurologist and he said I had all the symptoms of conversion disorder and sent me for a dat scan and then told me over the phone my dat scan revealed slow serotonin uptake and that I have parkinsons. I truly believe that these professionals are the ones causing my affliction to stay the same and never get better. I believe these conversion disorders might be undiagnosed lyme disease. I was bit by a tick on the arm that trembles. But once again GOOD LUCK finding a doctor that even believes in lyme disease!

Serendip Visitor's picture

Did you find relief?


I was interested in your story because it parallels mine. What happened. Did you get help, relief? How did you do it/

Jason Kahl's picture


In 2009 I walked into the VA with a back ache and limp, I spent the next three month trying to get Appt to even see a doctor. During this time the limp was getting worse, a couple hours I would walk funny, then straight all the while getting worse the amount of time I would walk normal would decrease.. At the 3rd month they found a disc a C5-6. The completed discectomy and fusion. I was told I needed more surgery I had to wait until March of 2009. In June of 2009 was the first time a Doctor told me I had Spinal Cord Damage. no one had said anything about this before. May of 2010 I developed Lhermitte's phenomenon. I was rushed back into surgery saying the March Surgery had collapsed not only did they have to work on the spine but drilled out the side root nerves too at the same time. There is definitively a contusion to the spinal cord at this level. EMGs saying that both legs have some loss but my right having more than the other. I have a severely altered gait, from April of 2009 to March of 2010 I went from walking with a cane to using Loftstrand or Canadian Crutches. In Feb 2010 it got so bad I needed a wheel chair. All the doctors I seen told me this is JUST a spinal cord injury. I have all my upper body and do have bowel and bladder control. I was more than shocked to have a doctors recently tell me I have a Spinal Issue AND CD..Even though I have SEVERAL OTHER Drs. that DO NOT AGREE! What do I do? and I am talking A BUNCH! of DR.s with just a couple saying CD. I one group of people are saying it is what it is and the others are saying CD...I did loose a job a few weeks prior but hell I knew the life I choose a long time ago, jobs come and they GO! Its Information Technology! Its like working construction or any other seasonal job. I had almost a year of pay stored up and was looking forward to taking some a little time off. So as far as I am concerned stress was not really factor. The many times this has happened before I always ended up with a better job making more money. My motto is unless there is a SCUD MISSILE coming in its NOT STRESS! (Yes that DID HAPPEN) For them to say CD at this time seems to me a cop out. The Dr. who does NOT believe them is being brushed aside along with all of the others who said different. I have a WHOLE STACK of REAL medical evidense, which the do not dispute. But they CAN"T tell me what is CD and what is REAL! I don't have any type of history, I am not easily persuaded. In my case the VA investigated the three months to find the Disc, the VA has been deemed at FAULT for causing what ever Cord Damage I have for not running a MRI or any other test in a timely manner, in fact they took three months. I was told I should be HAPPY with what I have, they seen a lot worse on other people with the same damage.

krisztina robles's picture

conversation disorder

yesr and a half agoi got diagnosed with cd was learning from crawling to alk with walker ... about 6 month ago i fall and made mine life a living hell now am bed ridden with cd and no1 can explain why i cant rcover from it i cant even sit up i am suprised how many strugguling with cd and recoverd almost to a full exent happy for u guys ...for now am looking to struggle to OTT ,PT therapy so on but am loosing so much faith in recovery since am stuck more now then before i was ok with wheelchair and walker ..but now cant live mine bed i like to find other ppl whit this similar situation like me ty .ps i want me life back :)

Serendip Visitor's picture

Help with diagnosis/treatment?

My sister is 33, was going to work on Wednesday, complained she couldn't catch her breath, went to ER, vitals were stable, when she laid down, she was unresponsive, paralyzed, catatonic-like. She was like this for a few hours. When she finally opened her eyes, she still didn't move her body or talk. All tests, lab, MRI, and EEG were negative. It is now Friday night and she is still not fully awake and alert, sleeps a lot, had 2-3 spells Thur and 2-3 Fri. She hyperventilates and stares and gets catatonic. Today I witnessed a pseudoseizure. They have been giving her Ativan to relax; is that why she won't wake up and talk and be alert and "normal"? How long do we let this go on? She is hospitalized on a psych unit and we are considering moving her to a different hospital, but don't know if that will make a difference. She isn't awake or alert long enough to eat or drink much, and when she is, she is so weak she just drifts back to sleep, or has another spell. She needs to wake up and eat and get energy, so she can start some psychotherapy to get to the root of this. Is this "normal" for an initial diagnosis of conversion disorder? For it to last this long? What should we do?

Ebony Holmes 's picture

Conversion disorder ?

Is she okay now ?
I hope you took her too another hospital
I have been diagnosed with c.d
Please write back
Ebony x

David's picture

Diagnosed with Conversion Disorder...but not so sure...

My husband was injured at work. He fell through a chassis of a tractor trailer truck, while falling he put his hand out to try to catch himself, and a bungee cord hook "S" type hook went through the palm of his hand and his initial reaction when he felt resistance on his hand (without knowing his hand was hooked), was to pull, and therefore the hook wripped through his palm (kinda like a fish hook), initially after it happened, his thumb and pointer finger became paralized...we saw an orthopedic hand surgeon who performed an exploration surgery on his hand to see if there were any torn tendons/nerves. The doctor said everything was mind you, this was a workman's comp doctor. Two weeks after surgery, while he was stretching his fingers out like the doctor wanted him to do to prevent the joints/ligaments from getting stiff, he had a terrible "tearing" pain in the palm of his hand, and then after that happened, all 5 of his fingers were unable to move. The dr said this could be due to inflamation and scar tissue... now my husband also started experiencing pain/weakness going all the way up his arm, and extreme pain in the shoulder/neck area..his range of motion was limited in his arm and well as his hand paralized. An EMG and nerve test were done and stated that there was denervation in C6, c7, c8, T1 nerve roots and well as all 3 periphial nerves (ulnar, median, radial). The test suggested that he could have a brachial plexus injury or a pinched nerve in the neck area. The doctor did nothing with these test results, basically was not concerned at all. Over time, symptoms got worse, his muscles in his hand/arm was rapidly weakening, his hand went through a period of extreme skin peeling of (like extreme dry skin that would just peel right off), his nails were cracking/peeling as well, other tests were performed including many different MRI's testing his hand/wrist area, brachial plexus area, his brain/spine area.. cat scans were also done, xrays were done, and besides the results from the EMG, the only other problem that showed on any of these tests showed that he had some bulging discs in his neck area...but the doctor also ignored this as well. We saw the orthopedic hand surgeon, neuroligists, pain management specialists, and the basic gist of things to make this story shorter is that my husband was being brushed off from dr to dr because they did not want to be involved in this case, getting any kind of answers from these drs was like pulling teeth,(trust me, we asked lots of questions, did research, its not like we didn't try) they thought maybe he was developing RSD, and wanted to do a nerve block, (which at the time of this, the pain had gone away,, so this was pointless and we refused this procedure), we had a second opinion pain specialist that also agreed that he did not need this since my husband was only showing "some" signs of having RSD, not a definite diagnosis. We had to beg the orthopedic dr, (that workman's comp was counting as the main dr in lead of his treatment) to do further tests, months after the "tearing pain" feeling that my husband had in his palm, we finally got the dr to agree to do an mri, but as he was agreeing, he said that he didn't think it would help...and it turned out that it did show he had a torn tendon, which in turn, the dr said did not have anything to do with the fact that my husband's hand was paralized...then months later, the dr thinks maybe he has MS, so then we get referred to another neurologist that takes a look at the initial EMG/nerve test that suggested possible brachial plexus injury...she wanted to do another EMG/nerve test, we get approval for the test to be done, then the day of the test, she says she only had approval to test from his elbow to his fingers...which in order to test for a brachial plexus injury, you must test from the neck area down to the fingers...which she did not do, at this point my husband has very bad muscle atrophy (waisting), and she said that the muscles were fine, which was a red flag for us....after the test, we call the insurance agent which told us that the dr did in fact have full approval to fully complete the the neurologist lied to us....we were then told to call the dr back and ask why she didn't go all the way up to the neck, and they had the nerve to tell us that we have no right questioning the dr and that she did go all the way up. So at this point the neurologist is being fraudulent with the medical records and is lying about what was actually done. So then we find out that she is saying that from a neurologic perspective, nothing is wrong. They then tried to say that it must be an autoimmune disorder (such as MS)From there workman's comp care was ended. They at no point, proved that it was an autoimmune disorder, just kind of ended treatment. From that point, I have begun to seek care from my own personal doctors through my private insurance carrier. my regular primary doctor based on my symptoms thought it could be a brachial plexus injury, so she orders another EMG test, which does show nerve problems. Then we go to a nerve surgeon specialist that wants us to have an EMG done by their the test is done, and low and behold, they do not go all the way up to the neck area...and the results show no nerve problems...we were also told that they did contact workman's comp, but they would not tell us the reason for this. We feel that maybe this neurologist was covering up the workman's comp doctors (this may not be able to be proved, but I am sure many of you will admit that a doctor will agree with another collegue that they may have worked with or know) me it does happen....its just hard to prove. The reason I feel this way is because if the dr would have done the test the right way, it would have shown the true results of the nerve problem... (if you don't test the possible problem area...then you will not find out what the injury is) so this dr has suggested that my husband has conversion disorder based on all the emotional stress that he has been through with all of the workman's comp drs brushing us off and ignoring symptoms, etc, also says he could have trauma from the actual accident of falling through the truck and having his hand injured from the bungee cord hook. Which how we feel about this is the fact that it could be a reasonable explanation since this whole ordeal has caused a huge amount of frustration and stress over the past 9 months with trying to get some kind of a diagnosis...not to mention, his job and workman's comp has broke several laws to try to force him back to work when he is physically not sble to perform his job duties...he can't even drive. they have even threatened to fire that tops the stress as well. they are even trying to say that his injuries were not from the accident (hence their drs saying an autoimmune disorder). He was perfectly healthy before the day he fell. Now he goes to physical therapy, which for the most part, since he is still paralized in his hand, they mainly do electrotherapy, which is when they give electrical shocks to stimulate the muscles to help prevent muscle wasting (atrophy). he is at a very high level of 30, which is very abnormal. at this level, he should feel extreme pain from the electrical shocks, and his hand should respond to it (this is a thing that if his hand/arm was normal with no problems, then he would not be able to control what this electrotherapy does to him...his hand would automatically move upwards/downwards with the electric shocks, but at this high level, there is no response from his hand at all, nor does he feel any of the pain. There are other tests that the physical therapist does that there would be no way for my husband to "fake" the problem. he has also taken measurements from the very beginning when my husband first started therapy 9 months ago, and has compared to recent measurements, which show that his muscles have wasted a tremendous amount. At this point, his right leg is also being affected to the point his is physically unable to walk normally straight on that leg, he can only walk on the side of his foot, otherwise if he tried to walk with his foot flat, then his leg is distorted. his right leg muscles are also weakened. Some other symptoms that my husband has is part of his face feels numb, his neck hurts a lot, he can not straighten his arm completely, he can't lift his arm up that well either, since 2 weeks after the exploratory surgery in the way beginning, all of his fingers have been paralized and his hand has gone through several different skin changes, from excessive skin peeling, to major wrinkling/pruning after a minute of being in water, his hand is shiny and the skin is very silky feeling, it has a very bad smell to it (even with regular cleaning and normal hygene), it completely closes on its own, like it is balled up into a fist, and that is the natural resting stage for it when he doesn't manually try to open his fingers using his other hand. There are also sensation problems, where certain areas on the hand has less feeling that other parts. He is also very sensitive to hots/colds on this hand compared to his other hand. He also sometimes experiences electrical shock zapping feelings going up his arm when that particular area is touched. in a 9 month period, he has had 4 EMG/nerve tests. 2 of those tests suggested the same nerve problems, with the latter one suggesting the problems were worsened, and during the emg parts of the test, there was no active recruitment in his hand at all and parts of his forearm as well(these 2 nerve tests were from his neck down to his fingers), and then the other 2 tests showed no nerve problems at all (which these nerve tests were only done from his elbow down to his fingers) we feel that these two tests were conducted by neurologists that were trying to benefit the workman's comp case (and trying to avoid the truth of the actual problem to surface). Out of these two last tests that show no problems, the one neurologist that physically lied to us (as mentioned above) stated that there was nothing wrong at all, and then this last neurologist that we saw said the nerve part was fine, but the emg part was abnormal, but said he didn't think it was related to whats going on. he is the one who suggested the conversion disorder. We do have a lawyer and we do feel at this point that my husband's employer (which is a local government that he works for) is trying to avoid being liable for my husband's injury. Now first I want to say sorry for how long this comment is, but I wanted to try to eplain the situation so you will understand better as to what is going on and why we are kind of skeptical of it actually being a conversion disorder compared to an actual medical problem. We are not completely convinced because 2 of the emgs did show an actual nerve problem, and then 2 did not..and plus, my husbands hand has been paralized for 9 months straight now, there hasn't been at any point where the symptoms would go away. We have had doctors say they think it is a brachial plexus injury, and some say it is an autoimmune disorder. we have had workman's comp doctors ignore the symptoms, brush off actual medical proof from the tests, we have had them out right lie to us, some things just don't make sense to me as to why the emg/nerve test that went all the way up to his neck show nerve problems, but the 2 drs that only went from his elbow to his fingers show no problems... if anyone has dealt with workman's comp, you will know that these doctor are there for the interests of the employer not the employee, they try to force you back to work well before you are capable of returning, they basically brush you off. (we even had the one orthopedic doctor plain out tell us that his job was on his back to get him back to work...he is the same doctor that released him back to work without even seeing him first and giving him a doctors note..the last visit he had with this dr, he had him out of work, and then it was well over 2 months since he saw him, and we get a phone call from his job saying that he had to return to work...they did this behind our back and by braking the law. they got the dr to give unrealistic restrictions that my husband was unable to do, then we had the job harrassing him, threatening to fire him, etc. so we have been through a lot...and 9 months later, we do have our own drs stating that his current medical condition is from the accident at work, but even within our own drs, we have the one neurologist that we feel is tainted from the workman's comp doctors (since he did state that they were in contact), so we feel that is the reason why he didn't do the test completely accurate and that they are trying to cover up the liability of the employer.

And the main reason why I feel that he may be misdiagnosed with conversion disorder is because the main thing for this disorder is the fact that it can't be explained by an actual medical "organic" problem, and we do have 2 medical tests that state nerve injury. we have also done a lot of research on nerve injuries (especially brachial plexus injuries), and my husband just about fits all of the symptoms exactly. So as of right now, we were told we should at least give this perspective a try, since it won't hurt to at least rule conversion disorder out. so we are going to give it a try, but in the mean time, we will also try for another opinion, whether we have to pay out of pocket for testing to help keep the doctor from being biased. we just hope that we will eventually get the answer to what is wrong. If anyone has any thoughts, please feel free to email us at We are also currently looking for a specialist that deals with conversion disorder...which we are having no luck with.

GARY Mac's picture

conversion disorder - seizure dystonia

I Have had the disorder ten years and only recently 2 yrs ago finally got a proper name/diagnosis. Its been absolute hell. I was 23 stressed to the max lying in bed and suddenly my head arched back and i couldnt pull it forward, when i pulled it forward it stretched back again and I had an incredible headache (i was certain i had a stroke!)

Ive had the headache for ten years my head tilted to the right and my eyes were affected, i couldnt swallow and couldnt get a deep breath; unlike some - my symptoms were permenant and didnt recurr periodically i was just stuck like this!

after becoming completely pissed off demoralised and resentful of the medical community having apathy and multitudes of tests ct scan arrogant treatment by one scoffing neurologist etc etc CBT therapy by psychologist nothing worked so I just treated myself, i became super fit thinking it would cure me eventually - i ran half marathons and jogged 5 - 7 km 5 days a week did yoga but nothing worked,

This last year i finally found a decent doctor who put a name to this thing and another thing i did i had decided to try marijuana ( against the doctors advice ) but it has helped me a lot! Also studying the disorder has helped. Incrementally and in sudden episodes the disorder has improved i could feel my stomach move and my swallow muscles went back into place more, another few months and fixed some more my neck loosened, i would say im 70 % better and am so so eager for the rest to fix up!!!! I never ever thought it could fix, until i knew the knowledge of the disorder I felt like it was a permanent state of mind headache it destroyed my life im unsociable never married am poor, spent years alone and people shunned my strange manner, suicide was an option but now just knowing the disorder and realising its real - It was all worth holding onto life and getting better,

I always have much more compassion for misunderstood people and strange conditions affecting people and feel like it changed me completely my life trajectory/personality everything. Its so strange and interesting but i still dont believe (for my personal disorders effects and some others people maybe) that it is ALL in the mind I dont agree. I think if some neurologists were struck by this thing it would be a huge terrific insight as to how everything possible doesnt fix it!!! Good to read all your MSG's!!!!

Leanne 's picture


Just going through this form, my dad has conversion disorder he is 46, his health is deterating so much with all the medication the doctors are filling him with, I am his daughter who smokes cannabis, I have often said to him to try it to see if it made a difference on his life, could you tell me how the smoke changed your life..?


Dan 's picture

Gary's conversion disorder

Congratulations, Gary. Just keep working at it and you will be 100%. It's not all in your mind. There are physical symptoms. I often wish neurologists could experience these many symptoms themselves so they could see how useless their approaches are. And how infuriating much of their attitudes are as well. It doesn't have to be so difficult to figure this thing out.

Selma's picture

More Understanding Required about Conversion Disorder

The article above together with comments posted were most educative, please keep me posted of new comments in future to keep abreast. Thank you

Amanda's picture

Conversion Disorder

Wow!I'm not sure to be happy or sad to hear that someone else is going through what I've been going through for yrs.This disorder has me completely confused.I have been dx w/seizures and countless more.Then last may I was hospitalized for a week for a stroke that wasn't a stroke at all after the proper testing,but here I am laying there with all the characteristics of one.Was home with my children and had chest pains that led to my left arm numbness followed by a seizure and passing out.When I woke up in the ER I couldn't move my left side at all,face,arm,leg.Could'nt talk.This was by far the scariest episode yet,and since they couldn't find out why I was dx with Conversion Disorder.My doctor actually had the nerve to tell me it was all in my head.Like I can just pass out , have a seizure or a stroke on que.WTF! This is so frustrating, no I see a therapist and Pysch and still don't understand thing mess,and instead of helping the think it's best to medicate me,which pisses me off because they don't understand as well as I don't but yet the wanna keep me drug up. This is BS..AND NOBODY SEEMS TO KNOW ANYTHING! I am 28 yrs old with small children and is very frustrated is there someone that could help other than books or meds.Which cannot help me at this point.I have lost my job,and feel like this thing is trying to take over me. Help please!!!!!

cheryl mallon's picture

conversion disorder

hi,im 39yo and know exactly how you so glad im not going mad.i first took ill in 2005 adn got told that i had a mini stroke,then spent years being told it was ms.i just got diagnosed two months ago,and still dont know much about the condition.there isnt any help groups that i know off,and no books that i can partner and kids are very supportive,but other family members think im just a nutter,and its all in my mind.WTF! it makes me so angry,some peoples attitudes.i walk permanently with a stick,and shake uncontrollably a lot.i have been in the local asda,tesco etc and been called an allcoholic,drug addict,you name it,i have been called really upsets me in this day and age.i live in scotland,and iam trying to find a group that i could become part of for support etc,but no such luck.would love to hear form other cd sufferers xx

Serendip Visitor's picture

Conversion Disorder

my wife had near on complete memory loss, a homeopathic remedy called Circuta 6C brought her memory back within several seconds of not knowing me or remembering where we lived or who she was. This changed our lives. you can buy this homeopathy. we went to nelsons homeopathy clinic in London UK. There are many other ways which we found to understand and find helpful solutions, it would be good to share with other people.

Jacky's picture

I and my family have been

I and my family have been taking homeopathic remedies for our day-to-day problems for more than 20 years. Homeopathy works, see We are satisfied with homeopathy as a system of medicine.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Conversion Disorder and Pseudo Seizures

My mom was diagnosed with Conversion disorder in 2008 she is very depressed has alot of anxiety and goes in to these spells called Pseudo Seizures we are in and out from E.R. these spells can last from 30minutes to 3hrs this is very frustruating specially when they think she is faking it they have tried painful stimulus but she does not respond to any I mean she falls and hurts her self pretty bad who would actually do that I know she doesnt do it for attention either she's my mother and ofcorse no one knows her best than her family my question is we have tried psychiatry therapy medications nothing seems to work any advice? would honestly be appreciated...

Thank You

Serendip Visitor's picture

Conversion disorder

My daughter was diagnosed with tardive dyskinesia 10 years ago.(side effect from Haldol). I took her to a clinic in Gainsville where doctor claims it is cd. Now all of a sudden because his results were faxed to all her other doctors, everyone has jumped on the same band-wagon. Gee. Let's all say that. Sounds good to me. Its cd. You should check out natve A frend told me about them 2 days ago. She swears by them and says they have all natural products that will not only help you, but make you stronger. Good luck and God bless.

Lynnetta's picture

I know exactly how you feel.

I know exactly how you feel. I am a mom and have recently been diagnosed with conversion disorder as well. No, your mother isn't faking it, and I hope the nurses in the ER are more understanding than mine were. I will be undergoing extensive testing in a couple of months. If they find out anything, I will post it. The most frustrating part for me is that I just want to live a normal life, and right now, I can't work or drive.

Dan 's picture

Lynetta, If you have


If you have conversion disorder, what kind of testing? Physical testing? But your condition is not caused by anything physical. So what are they testing? I went through much testing myself when I could not walk. They diagnosed me with RSD and wanted to give me a spinal tap to "test". I refused. I know if I had undergone a physically intrusive test my body would have reacted with horrendous physical pain. Because my mind is opportunistic and would know that I would accept a further pain condition if I felt that it was from a needle. MRI testing gave me tremendous physical pain (meaning my mind converted that pressure into pain). I had nerve testing (shocks) which also further debilitated me. They wanted to put a morphine device into my back.

Then I went to John Sarno and I didn't have to do any "testing" or medical procedures. He gave me a gentle physical examination. Eventually I went to one of his psychotherapists Dr. Arlene Feinblatt in New York. Within a year I was walking without any devices. Psychotherapy was one of the most challenging things I have ever undergone. It's been over 2 years and I still go to Dr. Feinblatt every two weeks. I am completely pain free. Once in a while I get a twinge in my back or shoulder. But that acts like a thermometer to tell me that I am not feeling something. When I search for what is angering me and accept that I'm angry at something, the discomfort goes away.

I suppose you have to go through your process, and spend a lot of money (I did). But your condition is psychologically based. Please post any findings you have on this board. But if I had followed doctor recommendations after extensive "testing" two years ago, I would still be a cripple and not be able to drive or walk.

I suggest you read Sarno's book The Divided Mind. If you have conversion disorder, that's what the book is about, how to heal from conversion disorder. And/or go to a psychotherapist who understands how to treat conversion disorder (most don't). I had a psychologist who wanted to treat me to accpet my pain and inability to walk and he was going to assist me to learn to how to accept my diminished life. No, thank you. I wanted to walk again and drive and have a normal life. And I have succeeded and so can you.

Serendip Visitor's picture


Hi Dan! I am inspired by your recovery from CD. Are you still pain free and see Dr. Feinblatt?

Serendip Visitor - D. Golden CO's picture

Dr. John Sarno - The Divided Mind

Hello Dan,
I'm in my early 50's and am Thankful for your messages!

Thanks for speaking boldly to people about how they are the only one in the position to truly "cure" or as I say, "Grow Through" Conversion Disorder. I have had the disorder for 10 years, Sept. 2000 was the first real episode that sent me to the hospital with legs not working, numbing, etc and the ER doctor first said, "possible MS". I just received the diagnosis of Conversion Disorder this past week of Feb. 2011 and My Husband and I celebrated as thought I'd Won the Health Lottery and could Now Give Myself Permission to Be Healthy.

We didn't know what Conversion Disorder was yet as we drove home from the Movement Disorder appt. where I received the diagnosis, but we were told by Dr. Kumar, here in the Denver, CO area that I could get better!

Just in the past couple of days, I've embraced the disorder, have been reading and learning and also created a website that hopefully will assist in Empowering Others to Grow Through Conversion Disorder.

I also ran out and purchased "The Divided Mind" by Dr. Sarno. I'm devouring the information within the pages allowing the messages to seep deep into my mind, body and spirit and I'm already physically doing things I haven't done in over 5-10 years - like play roller hockey with my son and husband. (All padded falling took place... Just Lots of Long Awaited FUN!

I'd like you to consider writing your Success Story so I may post it in my website so others may come across it and know their Healing Is Within Their Grasp - and yet, YES... Work will need to be done.

Bless You Always and In All Ways,

jill's picture

your website

what is the website you created? we are desperate to find more answers for our daughter...just beginning to try to understand this horrible disease...not emotionally or knowledgeable enough yet to write more questions yet.

Kathy Smith's picture

Conversion Disorder

I read what you wrote in Febr, 2011, about Conversion Disorder on the Serendip Web Site. You mentioned you have a web site.

I have been dx'd with CD. Would you please give me the name of your web site so that I might learn more about this condition? I also live in Colorado and am looking for recomendations for doctors who treat this condition, successfully.

Would be happy to respond with more input if you're interested.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Dan 's picture

What you are going through is

What you are going through is very painful. And I know it's a helpless feeling and frightening and angering seeing your mother like this. I commented below and I don't want to repeat myself. You say you've tried everything. Have you read the John Sarno book The Divided Mind?

My 10 year old nephew was diagnosed with psuedo-seizures. He was finally diagnosed correctly - first they said he had epilepsy. He now goes to a child psychologist in Chicago who specializes in psychosomatic disorders and has treated other children with psuedo-seizures. His seizures have stopped.

I myself was in a wheelchair for two years with conversion disorder. I now walk and am 100% fine.

Your mother has to completely accept that these symptoms are not physically induced. They are psychological. And you have to get a psychoanalyst who understands the mindbody connection with her condition. And explore her feelings to have her repressed feelings (feelings she does not know she has) come into her consciousness. So that her unconscious does not need to distract her with these seizures. She is protecting herself from feeling these emotions. Once she feels these emotions, her anger and sadness at things, her mind will not have to protect her by causing the seizures.

But the therapist must understand this process. The good thing is that it is not physical. Not like true epilepsy. Without drugs or surgery your mother can heal.

Cher's picture

I had what we thought was a

I had what we thought was a mini stroke in Dec but the mris and ct scans didn't confirm. Now they are calling it Conversion Disorder but are still not sure why I have certain deficits in the brain left from it and why nothing is "textbook" about me. My main concern is now 6 months later and with hardly any follow up after I got out of the hospital, I am supposed to see the Dr Monday and see if he thinks I can work again. I can't multitask anymore, I am a different person than my resume suggests because of the deficits and I still have numbness left over in my left side of the mouth, I have memory loss, I am TIRED and get overwhelmed easily by too much stimuli. Yes my life is stressful but whose isn't these days? I am very concerned. Does anyone know any sites or books re: returning to work and what kind of disability/support I might be eligible for? I am confused and scared. Any help would be appreciated.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Good Book

I read a good book called 'Charcots bad idea' which provides a critisism to mainstream established medical doctrine about psychosamatic illnesses which can be very diverse and still not well understood.

Dan 's picture

Have you read about

Have you read about conversion disorder on this very page? At the top. The cure for most is psychotherapy. Why aren't you going to a psychoanalyst? Why are you going to doctors and asking when you can go back to work and support, etc? Go to a psychotherapist. You are not going to get better until you do the psychological work you need. Most medical doctors have no idea what to do and cannot really help you. If they were doing their job they would get you to a therapist who understands psychosomatic disorder. If they are incapable of doing that, then you have to do it yourself.

You are not doing the work that will get you out of this. Of course you're depressed by this. But that's not your main problem. But the Sarno book and get to a good therapist who understands conversion disorder. If they don't understand conversion disorder, give the therapist the Sarno book. And maybe they can learn. Because I don't know where you live. If you were in New York, you could go to Sarno.

Dan 's picture

Conversion disorder

Conversion disorder is a psychological disorder. Buy the book The Divided Mind by Dr. John Sarno. You have to accept that it is psychological in nature. That the cause of the symtoms is being initiated by your brain. Your sympathetic nervous system. The pain and symptoms are of course very real. You may have to go to a therapist, a psychoanalyst, who understands and works with patients with this disorder.

But the good news is that nothing physical is wrong with you. There is no lasting damage to your body. You just need to feel what you are repressing. Without surgery or drugs. Please read the Sarno book. The book has led to thousands of people being cured. I was in a wheelchair for two years and now I walk. I'm 100% cured. The regular doctors had no idea what was wrong with me. I know, it's a scary and infuriating situation when the doctors do not know what they're doing. But you have an advantage of being diagnosed with conversion disorder. At least you know what it is. Most doctors don't even know enough to diagnose conversion disorder.

You may be very "textbook". It's just not their textbook. Everyone with conversion disorder goes through the same thing. You have to accept that these symptoms are trying to distract you from feelings you are not feeling. That you feel are threatening. And this is the way your body is reacting. Some call this "stress". But it's not stress. That's not understanding the physical/medical process that is happening to you. You are converting repressed emotions into physical symptoms. When you discover what those feelings are that you don't want to feel, the symptoms will go away. And some people don't even have to do that. Some people's symptoms go away just when they accept that this is what is happening to them. That it's psychological. When they accept that there is nothing physically wrong with their body - as far as a physical cause - their symptoms go away.

A typical doctor is not going to help. Very few understand this medical disorder. Or even accept it. Which is ridiculous. But that's the way it is.