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A 1908 systematic review of the laterality of hysterical hemiplegia
  1. J Stone1,
  2. C Warlow1,
  3. A Carson2,
  4. M Sharpe2
  1. 1Division of Clinical Neurosciences, School of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, UK
  2. 2Division of Psychiatry, School of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Morningside Park, Edinburgh EH10 5HF, UK
  1. Correspondence to
 Dr Stone;

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Since the publication of our systematic review of the laterality of functional or medically unexplained weakness and sensory disturbance (1965–2000)1 we have come across a study from 1908 with a similar aim.

Ernest Jones, later an eminent figure in the psychoanalytic movement, published his paper in French while working as an assistant physician at the London School of Medicine.2 He reported on the cumulative analysis of 277 cases of hysterical hemiplegia described by 146 authors in 164 articles published between 1880 and 1908. Most of this material is in French and German and includes cases mentioned in doctoral theses and books.

There was no excess of left sided hemiplegia compared with right in hysteria in his analysis—54% had paralysis on the right side and 46% on the left. This was contrary to the prevailing opinion of the time3,4 and also disagrees with another less systematic review of older studies (covering 100 subjects, 13 publications and 6 authors between 1885–1937).5

Jones’ conclusions—that the laterality of hysterical hemiplegia has no diagnostic value—were the same as ours. His study has not been cited for at least 40 years (and probably much longer even than that). It has been neglected, like many other negative studies before and since, but it deserves recognition on this subject.