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J R Soc Med. 1991 August; 84(8): 471–475.
PMCID: PMC1293375

'Hysteria', 'functional' or 'psychogenic'? A survey of British neurologists' preferences.


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.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • SLATER E. DIAGNOSIS OF "HYSTERIA". Br Med J. 1965 May 29;1(5447):1395–1399. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Trimble MR. Functional diseases. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982 Dec 18;285(6357):1768–1770. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Lewis A. 'Psychogenic': a word and its mutations. Psychol Med. 1972 Aug;2(3):209–215. [PubMed]
  • Pilowsky I. Abnormal illness behaviour. Br J Med Psychol. 1969 Dec;42(4):347–351. [PubMed]
  • Shalev A, Munitz H. Conversion without hysteria: a case report and review of the literature. Br J Psychiatry. 1986 Feb;148:198–203. [PubMed]
  • Woodruff RA., Jr Hysteria: an evaluation of objective diagnostic criteria by the study of women with chronic medical illnesses. Br J Psychiatry. 1968 Sep;114(514):1115–1119. [PubMed]

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