The misdiagnosis of conversion disorder in a psychiatric emergency service

David A. Fishbain, Myron Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


During a 1-year period, 8400 patient presentations to a psychiatric emergency service were screened for the conversion symptom of extremity paresis/paralysis. Of 4220 unduplicated presentations, three patients had this complaint. These cases were reviewed and followed up. All had received a DSM-III diagnosis of conversion disorder, but in each case the patient's conversion symptom was attributed to organic disease. This had medicolegal consequences in one case and threatened legal consequences in the others. Although the frequency of this alleged conversion symptom was 0.07%, in reality it was 0.0%. Guidelines for the management of the alleged conversion symptom of paresis/paralysis are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-181
Number of pages5
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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