Table 2

Neurologists' views on the nature of conversion disorder

N (%)
Percentage of new patients' symptoms with no sufficient neurological basis
 <10%95 (27)
 10–25%196 (56)
 25–50%51 (15)
 >50%5 (1)
Proportion of these with conversion disorder
 All or virtually all1 (0)
 The majority81 (24)
 A minority247 (73)
 None5 (2)
Relationship of conversion to other unexplained
 Overlap139 (41)
 Completely distinct39 (11)
 Unexplained a subset of conversion9 (3)
 Conversion a subset of the unexplained155 (45)
How likely is a diagnosis of conversion disorder in
 A woman with inconsistent paralysis who appears psychologically healthy?
  Impossible3 (1)
  Possible215 (62)
  Probable128 (37)
 A distressed man with an unexplained arm tingle?
  Impossible20 (6)
  Possible292 (85)
  Probable30 (9)
 A man whose paralysis improves when he thinks he's not observed?
  Impossible58 (17)
  Possible162 (47)
  Probable125 (36)
Do psychiatrists have a sufficient psychological model for conversion?
 Yes10 (3)
 Probably40 (12)
 Possibly107 (32)
 No180 (53)
Which model best explains your view of conversion disorder?
 Effects of stress on the nervous system38 (11)
 Subconscious behaviour163 (47)
 Disorder of brain function26 (7)
 Abnormal illness behaviour66 (19)
 Feigning2 (1)
 Other (or several of the above)49 (14)
What proportion of your unexplained patients do you think are feigning?
 None27 (8)
 A few302 (88)
 Many13 (4)
 Most or all of them2 (1)
Relationship of conversion to feigning
 Overlap150 (44)
 Completely distinct151 (44)
 Feigning a subset of conversion30 (9)
 Conversion a subset of feigning13 (4)
Do you understand conversion to be neurological, in the same way as MS?
 Yes35 (10)
 No, but I expect to one day89 (26)
 No, and I expect I never will219 (63)
  • Percentages are of those answering the question rounded to the nearest whole number.

  • MS, multiple sclerosis.