The paradox of hysterical anesthesia consists of failure to perceive sensory stimuli despite intact and functioning innervation. The preservation of deep and superficial reflexes and the nonanatomic distribution of the anesthesia furnish evidence of the neurologic integrity of the affected parts. The psychodynamic features reveal the conversion nature of the symptoms.
The cold pressor test consists of a standard cold stimulus applied to an extremity as a procedure for quantitative estimation of the reactivity of the vasomotor system.1 The response consists of an increase in systemic blood pressure on immersion of a limb in cold water. It has been demonstrated previously that the cold pressor response depends on the transmission of sensation through intact peripheral nerves.2
This study was undertaken to determine whether conscious perception of the stimulus is necessary to cause an elevation of blood pressure, or whether the reaction is the result of reflexes mediated at
Sullivan JD. SENSORY RECEPTION IN HYSTERICAL ANESTHESIA AS MEASURED BY THE COLD PRESSOR RESPONSE. Arch NeurPsych. 1944;51(1):84–85. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1944.02290250090008
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