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The diagnostic preferences of British neurologists for patients who lack a physical explanation for their symptoms were assessed by means of a postal questionnaire. Analysis of 168 completed replies showed 'functional', 'psychogenic' and 'hysteria' to be the most popular terms in use. The number of different terms a clinician would use rose in line with the volume of such patients they encountered, but was unrelated to clinician factors such as the extent of their clinical experience in psychiatry. A specific enquiry into these respondents' interpretation of the term 'functional' revealed a clear consensus as to which syndromes it should apply to, although this consensus was not shared by a comparison group of psychiatrists.