Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES), is a conversion disorder thought to be linked to unresolved emotional distress. While some studies suggest that PNES patients do not attribute their somatic symptoms to severe psychological experiences (Stone, Binzer, & Sharpe, 2004; LaFrance & Barry, 2005), it is unclear what PNES patients do think causes their seizures, and the psychological consequences of those attributions. The aim of the present study was to investigate PNES patients' attributions for their seizures, and to determine how these attributions relate to stress and emotion regulation. It was hypothesized that participants who attribute their seizures to something (i.e., have an explanation for their seizures) will have lower perceived stress and less difficulty with emotion regulation than those who are unsure of the cause of their seizures. Twenty-four PNES participants completed a questionnaire assessing seizure diagnosis, characteristics of seizure impact, perceived stress, psychological symptoms, emotion regulation, attributions for seizures, and coping resources. Contrary to the hypothesis, having an explanation for seizures, rather than being “unsure” of seizure cause, was related to greater perceived stress. While it would seem that attributing unpredictable seizure events to a cause would lower perceived stress and emotion regulation difficulty, this study indicates that an attribution to an unknown cause may be more beneficial for the individual.
- Is ignorance bliss?: attributions for seizures and consequences of those attributions among participants with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures
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Statement of Responsibility
by Mallory Barker