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Commentary in Neurology
Oct 2012

Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures: Time to Abandon the Term Pseudoseizures

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Graduate Entry Medical School, University Hospital Limerick (Dr O’Hanlon), Department of Geriatric Medicine, Kerry General Hospital, Tralee (Dr Liston), and Department of Neurology, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin (Dr Delanty), Ireland.

Arch Neurol. 2012;69(10):1349-1350. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2012.829

The term pseudoseizure remains in common use despite calls for it to be replaced with less pejorative alternatives. The word pseudo means “to deceive,” so using the term pseudoseizure can arouse suspicion in those who hear it that the symptoms of a seizure are being intentionally produced, which is not true. Such false impressions undermine the doctor-patient relationship. The condition is challenging to manage, and patients often receive inappropriate treatment, resulting in significant potential for morbidity and mortality. The dearth of research makes optimum management difficult. We call for a serious reconsideration of this condition and emphasize that psychogenic nonepileptic seizure is a better term. More research and education are needed to help reduce its burden.

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