Conversion Disorder

Conversion disorder is a mental illness in which patients have neurological symptoms but no medical cause. This is different from somatization, which is the conversion of psychological distress into physical symptoms. Typically, people with this disorder experience neurological problems such as seizures, paralysis and blindness that are not explained by any injuries or other medical conditions.

What is Conversion Disorder?

What is Conversion Disorder?

A psychiatric term used in some psychiatric classification schemes is conversion disorder (CD), or functional neurologic symptom disorder. It is often used in patients with neurological manifestations such as numbness, blindness, paralysis, or fits that are incompatible with a well-established organic cause that induces severe anxiety that can be traced back to a psychiatric cause.

Conversion is, in fact, a psychological defense mechanism. Defense mechanisms aim to protect our mental structure from the negative consequences (such as anxiety) of our internal conflicts. Defense mechanisms are unconscious processes, so we use these defenses, but we are not aware of this. On the other hand, there may be some negative consequences. But these results are easier to handle than others because they are less harmful than actual mental conflicts.

In the defense mechanism of conversion, neurological symptoms occur in an individual exposed to a psychosocial stress factor. However, in fact, there is no neurological disease in the individual that will cause this neurological symptom. For example, a woman who often gets insulted by her husband starts to try to cope with this problem. In fact, what is happening here is that these bad words cause serious harm to the self, making her feel worthless and helpless. The patient escapes from the negative mood created by this situation by fainting, temporarily losing consciousness. From this perspective, fainting may sound bad, but it has a protective function by preventing further psychological harm.

One important point to know about conversion is that the individual doesn’t do it intentionally. This is a process that operates completely unconsciously, it develops beyond the conscious control of the person.

Is it Harmful ?

Conversion disorder is the case where this defense mechanism is used frequently and its consequences become more problematic. The quality of life and functionality of a person who faints five times a day will, of course, be impaired. In this case, this mechanism, which is actually protective up to a point, becomes a disease. The symptoms of conversion disorder are very diverse, may be related to any neurological function. For example, blindness, deafness, inability to speak, inability to walk, contractions in the muscles, etc.

Almost every case of conversion disorder has a visible psychosocial stress factor. This unfavorable life event may have been a long time ago, but the effects may still be experienced or maybe a new situation or a new situation.

Difficulties and Treatment

conversion disorder 1
source photo: cottonconfetti

One of the problems that arise in conversion disorder is the secondary benefits of the patient’s role and patient treatment after the symptoms appear. For example, taking over responsibilities at home, and starting to behave “good”. This situation, which initially seemed to benefit the patient, would be an obstacle that would make it difficult for the symptoms to disappear.

Psychotherapy is the only treatment for conversion disorder. Drugs have no place in the treatment, but if there are additional problems such as depressive disorder and anxiety disorder that develop later, drug treatment can be used. Also, psychodynamic-oriented psychotherapy and supportive psychotherapy can treat the disease. Depending on the stress factor, it may be necessary to use a couple or family therapies.

Last Updated on October 22, 2021 by Patric Johnson

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Currently studying psychology and researching cognitive behavioral therapy. Also have studied comprative literature,interested in gender studies,.

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