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The 10 types of conversion disorders, and their symptoms

The 10 types of conversion disorders, and their symptoms

May 2, 2024

Occasionally, healthy people experience some episode of somatization throughout their lives. Somatization is the unconscious ability to convert afflictions or psychic conflicts into physical, organic and functional symptoms.

However, in health sciences, when this somatization becomes pathological, we can speak of conversion disorder. In addition, there is a broad categorization of different types of conversion disorder according to accepted physical or psychological functions.

  • Related article: "The 16 most common mental disorders"

What is conversion disorder?

The conversion disorder or dissociative disorder, was formerly known as conversion hysteria and was with the well-known psychiatrist Sigmund Freud with whom he gained greater popularity; which claimed that internal unresolved conflicts become physical symptoms.


This disorder is distinguished by the presence of a series of neurological symptoms that impair sensory and motor functions . However, the most characteristic of all is that there really is no underlying disease that causes or justifies them.

As the name implies, the person who suffers a conversion disorder unconsciously transforms your concerns or psychological conflicts into symptoms , difficulties or deficits at the physical level; such as blindness, paralysis of some member, insensibility, etc.

Habitually, patients affected by this disorder tend to deny all those conflicts or problems that are evident for other people.


  • Related article: "The Theory of the Unconscious of Sigmund Freud (and the new theories)"

Types of conversion disorder

According to the ICD-10 Manual, there are different types of conversion disorders according to what functions or capacities are affected.

1. Dissociative amnesia

In this subtype of disorder the person suffers a memory loss in which he ** forgets all recent events **. This loss has no origin or organic cause and is too accentuated to be due to factors of stress or fatigue.

This loss of memories affects mainly traumatic events or with a very intense emotional charge, and tends to be partial and selective.

This amnesia it is usually accompanied by diverse affective states , such as anguish and bewilderment, but in many cases the person accepts this disorder in a very peaceful way.


The keys to diagnosis are:

  • Emergence of partial or complete amnesia of recent events of a traumatic or stressful nature .
  • Absence of an organic brain condition, possible intoxication or extreme tiredness.

2. Dissociative leak

In this case the disorder meets all the requirements of a dissociative amnesia, but also includes an intentional transfer away from the site where the patient is usually located, this displacement tends to be to places already known by the subject.

It is possible that an identity change may even be made by the patient, which can last from days to long periods of time, and with a level of extreme authenticity. The dissociative escape can be arrived at to give a person apparently common for anyone who does not know him.

In this case the rules for diagnosis are:

  • Present the properties of dissociative amnesia.
  • Move intentionally out of the everyday context .
  • Conservation of basic care skills and interaction with others.

3. Dissociative stupor

For this phenomenon, the patient presents all the symptoms typical of the state of stupor but without an organic basis that justifies it. In addition, after a clinical interview, the existence of a traumatic or stressful biographical event, or even relevant social or interpersonal conflicts, is manifested.

Stupor states are characterized by a decrease or paralysis of voluntary motor skills and a lack of response to external stimuli. The patient remains immobile, but with the muscle tone present, for a very long time. Likewise, the ability to speak or communicate is also practically absent.

The diagnostic pattern is as follows:

  • Presence of states of stupor.
  • Absence of a psychiatric or somatic condition that justify the stupor.
  • Emergence of stressful events or recent conflicts.

4. Trance and possession disorders

In the trance and possession disorder originates a forgetfulness of one's own personal identity and environmental awareness. During the crisis the patient behaves as if he were possessed by another person, by a spirit or by a superior force.

With regard to movement, these patients usually manifest a set or combination of movements and very expressive exhibitions.

This category only includes those involuntary trance states that occur outside of ceremonies or culturally accepted rites.

5. Dissociative disorders of voluntary motility and sensitivity

In this alteration the patient represents suffering some somatic illness to which an origin can not be found. Usually the symptoms are a representation of what the patient believes is the disease , but they do not have to adjust to the real symptoms of this.

In addition, like the rest of the conversion disorders, after a psychological evaluation some traumatic event or a series of them are revealed. Likewise, in most cases secondary motivations are discovered , as a need for care or dependence, avoidance of responsibilities or conflicts that are unpalatable for the patient.

In this case, the keys to diagnosis are:

  • There is no proof of the existence of a somatic disease.
  • Accurate knowledge of the environment and psychological characteristics of the patient that make them suspect that there are reasons for the appearance of the disorder.

6. Dissociative disorders of motility

In these cases the patient manifests a series of difficulties in mobility, in some cases suffering a total loss of mobility or paralysis of some limb or extremities of the body.

These complications can also manifest in the form of ataxia or difficulties in coordination; In addition to shaking and small tremors that can affect any part of the body.

7. Dissociative convulsions

In dissociative seizures the symptoms may mimic those of an epileptic seizure. However, in this disorder there is no loss of consciousness , but rather a small state of dullness or trance.

8. Anesthesias and dissociative sensory losses

In the dissociative sensory deficits the problems of lack of cutaneous sensitivity, or alterations in any of the senses they can not be explained or justified by a somatic or organic condition . In addition, this sensory deficit may be accompanied by paresthesias or skin sensations without apparent cause.

9. Mixed dissociative disorder

This category includes patients who present a combination of some of the above disorders .

10. Other dissociative disorders

There are a series of dissociative disorders not categorizable in the previous classifications:

  • Ganser syndrome
  • Multiple personality disorder
  • Transient conversion disorder of childhood and adolescence
  • Other specified conversion disorders

Finally, there is another category called Conversion disorder without specification , which includes those people with dissociative symptoms but who do not meet the requirements for the previous classifications.


Dissociative disorders - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology (May 2024).


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