Wednesday, May 29, 2013

'Pseudoneurological' Symptoms, Dissociation, and Stress-Related Psychopathology in Healthy Young Adults


This article is pretty geeky for the psychology crowd, but it's an interesting examination of how stress-related psychological issues can produce symptoms of somatoform dissociation. For clarification:
Somatoform dissociation is a specific form of dissociation with somatic manifestations represented in the form of 'pseudoneurological' symptoms due to disturbances or alterations of normal integrated functions of consciousness, memory, or identity mainly related to trauma and other psychological stressors.
It's a decent study, and worth the read.

Full Citation:
Bob P, Selesova P, Raboch J, and Kukla, L. (2013, May 25). ‘Pseudoneurological’ symptoms, dissociation and stress-related psychopathology in healthy young adults. BMC Psychiatry, 13:149. doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-149

'Pseudoneurological' symptoms, dissociation, and stress-related psychopathology in healthy young adults 

Petr Bob, Petra Selesova, Jiří Raboch, and Lubomir Kukla

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BMC Psychiatry 2013, 13:149, doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-149
Published: 25 May 2013

Abstract (provisional) 

Background

Somatoform dissociation is a specific form of dissociation with somatic manifestations represented in the form of 'pseudoneurological' symptoms due to disturbances or alterations of normal integrated functions of consciousness, memory or identity mainly related to trauma and other psychological stressors. With respect to the distinction between psychological and somatoform manifestations of dissociation current data suggest a hypothesis to which extent mild manifestations of 'pseudoneurological' symptoms in healthy young population may be linked to stress-related psychopathological symptoms or whether these symptoms more likely could be attributed to unexplained somatic factors. 
Methods

With this aim we have assessed the relationship between somatoform dissociation and stress-related psychopathology (i.e. anxiety, depression, symptoms of traumatic stress, alexithymia) in a group of 250 healthy non-psychiatric and non-clinical young adults. 
Results

Results of this study show that the symptoms of somatoform dissociation are significantly linked to stress-related psychopathology. 
Conclusions

Findings of this study show that the 'pseudoneurological' symptoms may be linked to stress-related psychopathological processes which indicate that also mild levels of stress may influence somatic feelings and may lead to various somatoform dissociative symptoms.

Background


Somatoform dissociation has been proposed as a concept describing specific forms of dissociative symptoms experienced as somatic disturbances due to alterations of normal integrative functions of consciousness, memory or identity related to stressful experiences [1-4]. Frequently these stressors are linked to an exposition of a trauma in childhood and related to physical, sexual or emotional abuse [5-8]. The somatic manifestations of dissociation are likely caused by a lack of integration of somatoform components of experience, reactions and functions and represented by various forms of pseudoneurological symptoms [8-11] involving bodily functions such as motor inhibition or loss of motor control, gastrointestinal symptoms, dissociative seizures, painful symptoms, alterations in perception or alterations in sensation of pain (analgesia, kinesthetic anesthesia) such as unability to register pain or painful affect during traumatic event [12-14]. Several studies have shown that the concept of somatoform dissociation may explain various somatic disturbances in psychiatric patients and also in patients with pain disorders that in many cases have unexplained etiology and in principle it could be related to stress exposure and related processes of mental disintegration [2,4,6,8-10,14]. As expected from the psychological theory and clinical data several findings also show that symptoms of somatoform dissociation have close relationship to psychologically experienced dissociative symptoms [6]. For example a recent study of young population of students strongly suggests that various stress factors related to dissociation may have direct and continuous relationship to somatic symptoms that may be explained within the concept of somatoform dissociation [15].

Although the concept of somatoform dissociation seems to be clinically relevant, the distinction between psychological and somatic forms of dissociation represents a fundamental problem whether dissociative symptoms, reflecting disorders of conscious awareness, are always “psychological” in nature or they may have somatic manifestations mediated by somatization or conversion mechanisms [6-8]. With respect to brain-mind reductionism that rejects mental causation the problem whether stress and traumatic experiences may cause only psychological or also somatic symptoms is still controversial [2,5-9,12]. This discussion in principle suggests clinically relevant empirical question and hypothesis whether mild manifestations of pseudoneurological symptoms linked to the concept of somatoform dissociation in general population may be  attributed to stress-related psychopathological symptoms. Within this context, in somatically healthy people these symptoms likely cannot be explained by various underlying somatic factors.

With the aim to test the hypothesis we have assessed the relationship between ‘pseudoneurological’ symptoms represented by somatoform dissociation questionnaire, and stress-related psychopathological symptoms (i.e. anxiety, depression, symptoms of traumatic stress, alexithymia) in a group of 250 non-psychiatric and non-clinical healthy young adults, who represent population particularly vulnerable to stress influences.
Read the whole article.
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