EmpowHER has several members who are living with conversion disorder -- a frightening and mysterious neurological disorder that has no known cause, although there are certain psychological components to the roots of the disorder.
Conversion disorder occurs after a highly traumatic event -- a car accident, death, near death, rape or other incident that causes severe psychological damage as well as physical injuries. Conversion disorder manifests itself in various ways and there is no medical reason found as to why its symptoms occur.
Symptoms of conversion disorder include losing the ability to speak, see or even move (paralysis) for no apparent physical reason. In other words, there have been no physical injuries that could explain the symptoms but psychological reasons are believed to be the root cause.
What's important to note is that the symptoms are real. The sufferer is not making them up. They actually cannot speak, they cannot actually walk or move certain muscles. It's thought that psychological trauma has legitimately stopped the body from functioning.
According to EmpowHER's conversion disorder's section on risk factors, conversion disorder may affect people at any age. While some studies have suggested that conversion disorder occurs more frequently in women, it can affect both men and women. Conversion disorders occur more commonly in rural areas, among individuals with fewer years of education and of lower socioeconomic status.
Everyone who develops conversion disorder was exposed to a traumatic event. However, there are other factors that may increase the likelihood of developing the disorder, including:
■A previous history of personality or psychological disease
■Physical or sexual abuse, particularly in children
■Family members with either conversion disorder or chronic illness
■ Co-existing psychiatric conditions such as depression or anxiety
■Co-existing personality disorders, such as histrionic, passive-dependent, or passive-aggressive personality disorder
When dealing with conversion disorder, a person often exhibits one or more of the following:
Impaired coordination and balance