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1.  In the psychiatrist's chair: how neurologists understand conversion disorder 
Brain  2009;132(10):2889-2896.
Conversion disorder (‘hysteria’) was largely considered to be a neurological problem in the 19th century, but without a neuropathological explanation it was commonly assimilated with malingering. The theories of Janet and Freud transformed hysteria into a psychiatric condition, but as such models decline in popularity and a neurobiology of conversion has yet to be found, today's neurologists once again face a disorder without an accepted model. This article explores how today's neurologists understand conversion through in-depth interviews with 22 neurology consultants. The neurologists endorsed psychological models but did not understand their patients in such terms. Rather, they distinguished conversion from other unexplained conditions clinically by its severity and inconsistency. While many did not see this as clearly distinct from feigning, they did not feel that this was their problem to resolve. They saw themselves as ‘agnostic’ regarding non-neuropathological explanations. However, since neurologists are in some ways more expert in conversion than psychiatrists, their continuing support for the deception model is important, and begs an explanation. One reason for the model's persistence may be that it is employed as a diagnostic device, used to differentiate between those unexplained symptoms that could, in principle, have a medical explanation and those that could not.
doi:10.1093/brain/awp060
PMCID: PMC2759333  PMID: 19321463
conversion disorder; hysteria; malingering; deception; factitious disorder
2.  Limits to truth-telling: Neurologists’ communication in conversion disorder 
Patient Education and Counseling  2009;77(2):296-301.
Objective
Neurologists face a dilemma when communicating with their conversion disorder patients – whether to be frank, and risk losing the patient's trust, or to disclose less, in the hope of building a therapeutic relationship. This study reports how neurologists in the UK described dealing with this dilemma in their practice.
Methods
Practicing consultant neurologists from an NHS region were recruited by snowball sampling. Twenty-two of 35 consultants in the region were interviewed in depth, and the interviews qualitatively analysed.
Results
The neurologists were reluctant to disclose conversion disorder as a differential diagnosis until they were certain. They were guided by the receptivity of their patients as to how psychological to make their eventual explanations, but they did not discuss their suspicions about feigning. They described their communications as much easier now than they had seen in training.
Conclusion
Neurologists adapt their disclosure to their patients, which facilitates communication, but imposes some limits on truth-telling. In particular, it may sometimes result in a changed diagnosis.
Practice implications
An optimum strategy for communicating diagnoses will need to balance ethical considerations with demonstrated therapeutic benefit.
doi:10.1016/j.pec.2009.05.021
PMCID: PMC2773836  PMID: 19560894
Conversion disorder; Factitious disorder; Malingering; Hysteria; Truth-telling; Deception; Neurology

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