Conversion disorder was formally called 'hysteria'. The disorder's diagnosis requires undergoing neurological symptoms that cannot be attributed to strictly medical causes. The person experiencing these symptoms does not just ‘imagine’ them, they actually go through them; it could influence how they function or sense things.
Experts have not yet found a cause and yet, they have identified several factors that might pave the way towards this psychological condition. Among these are stress, childhood abuse and genetics. Furthermore if a person has a conversion disorder, they are already more susceptible to acquire another psychological condition or a movement disorder.
Conversion disorder has the following symptoms:
Psychological conflict has been understood by researches as a cause. Other possible causal factors include a medical ailment, a dissociative disorder (characterized by unintentionally escaping from reality) and/or a personality disorder in which the person is not able to manage their behaviors and emotions appropriately in a situation. Furthermore, these symptoms manifest after a distressing experience in life.
People with this disorder do not try to conjure up these symptoms just to gain shelter; they do not do this just because they want personal gains neither are they purposefully injuring themselves or falsely reporting their symptoms in order to become a patient. Unfortunately, a proportion of the health care providers think that this disorder is not a valid ailment and they tend to tell their clients that they have made up the problem. However, it should be understood that this is a real, distressful condition. People cannot just switch it on or off as they please.
The physical symptoms arise, as researchers believe, in order to help the person cope with the conflict inside. Like in a person’s case who does not feel that violent feelings are acceptable, that person starts to feel numbness in their limbs following anger. So, instead of feeling the intense anger, the person felt numb in her limbs.
Research has identified some risk factors. Being a female in itself is a risk factor along with previously having a psychological condition. These psychological conditions include mood or anxiety, dissociative identity or any personality disorder. Furthermore, people with epilepsy are at a higher risk.
People who have a family member with this disorder tend to be more vulnerable along with those who have experienced childhood abuse. Other personality variables which affect this vulnerability include high conscientiousness, compulsivity and perfectionism.
Conversion disorder is preventable if the risk and causal factors are addressed properly. This is achieved by relieving stress and staying away from things which might cause emotional trauma. Stress or other emotional disorders like depression should undergo proper treatment. The person should also maintain a healthy, balanced life and good, positive relationships and associations. Moreover, keeping the family atmosphere as jolly and secure as possible is also a key to prevention.
While any individual might have difficulties controlling some factors, controlling those the individual can control would likely improve the other areas well. Minimizing events that could induce trauma or stress could also decrease the individual's vulnerability and susceptibility to conversion disorder.