Conversion disorder in childhood

James R. Brašić, Russell H. Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Conversion disorder, a mental disorder characterized by the presence of multiple medically unexplained neurological symptoms and signs precipitated by psychological stress, occurs in childhood. Conversion disorder is more common in lower socioeconomic-class individuals who are medically naïve. Objective: To demonstrate the salient features of conversion disorder in childhood and to identify needs for future research. Method: The report of a nine-year-old girl with medically unexplained neurological complaints following repeated severe psychosocial stressors is presented. Results: The subject presented symptoms suggesting blindness, deafness, and seizures while experiencing chronic child abuse and neglect. Conclusions: Conversion symptoms often occur in cases of severe psychosocial stress including sexual abuse. The presentation of conversion disorder in childhood may convince examining clinicians to institute medical and surgical interventions. Prompt identification of the condition and institution of appropriate treatment facilitates speedy recovery. Vigorous search for treatable neurological and medical diseases is indicated. Mood and anxiety disorders are likely to develop in individuals with conversion disorders in childhood and adolescence. Proactive involvement of child protective services may be required to prevent further child abuse and neglect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
JournalGerman Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 30 2002


  • Child neglect
  • Conversion disorder
  • Dissociative disorder
  • Hearing disturbance
  • Psychosocial stress
  • Visual disturbance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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