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Functional neurological symptoms 

Functional neurological symptoms
Chapter:
Functional neurological symptoms
Author(s):

Alan Carson

and Jon Stone

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199658602.003.0004
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date: 09 May 2021

Functional neurological symptoms are a common cause of disability and distress in any neurological service. Varying terminology, including hysteria, conversion disorder, dissociative, non-organic, and psychogenic, reflects the shifting nature of medical thinking, over time, regarding these presentations. They also emphasize the importance of a historical understanding when grappling with this area. This chapter traces this history, from Briquet’s monumental treatise on hysteria in 1859 to a randomized controlled trial of non-epileptic seizures in 2010. In the process, familiar figures such as Freud and Janet are encountered and the electrical treatments of Yealland, for hysteria, are re-evaluated. The chapter highlights how the application of functional neuroimaging perhaps raises more questions than it answers, at the current time, but how it has also aided the reawakening of clinical and research interest in this core area of clinical neurology.

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