What is Conversion Disorder?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Apr 08, 2013

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Conversion Disorder

A conversion disorder is a rare mental disorder in which a person has physical symptoms that no medical condition can explain. The symptoms do not appear to be under the person's conscious control. Examples of symptoms are a loss of muscle control, blindness, deafness, seizures or even apparent unconsciousness.


[Read: Symptoms of Conversion Disorder]

Conversion disorder is more common in women than in men. It occurs most frequently between adolescence and middle age. The name of the disorder comes from the idea that some sort of psychological distress is being converted into a physical symptom.

Some experts believe that a conflict or painful thought is so unacceptable that it never reaches the person's awareness. In some cases, the person shows little concern about the physical symptom, a phenomenon sometimes called la belle indifference.

Some of the factors that increase the risk of conversion disorder are:

  • recent episode of significant stress
  • emotional trauma due to family problems or troubled professional life
  • gender: female (women are twice likely to get conversion disorder compared with men)
  • being an adolescent or young adult puts one at higher risk of conversion disorder
  • mental health condition such as mood and anxiety disorders, dissociative disorder and certain personality disorders
  • history of physical or sexual abuse
  • family history of conversion disorder.



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