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Hixson, John D; Balcer, Laura J; Glosser, Guila; French, Jacqueline A
"Fear sensitivity and the psychological profile of patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures"
Epilepsy & behavior 2006 Dec; 9(4):587-592
Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) remain a poorly understood phenomenon for both patients and their physicians. Recent work has begun to focus on the possible psychological underpinnings of this diagnosis, but few studies have focused on specific emotional pathologies. This study sought to investigate the impact of a specific emotional measure: self-reported fear sensitivity. Three patient groups (patients with PNES, patients with epilepsy, and healthy volunteers) were administered the Modified Fear Survey Schedule, along with other neuropsychological batteries. As expected, the PNES and epilepsy cohorts demonstrated elevated levels of depression, anxiety, and comorbid psychiatric conditions. The PNES group independently exhibited a statistically significant higher level of fear sensitivity compared with both patients with epilepsy and healthy volunteers. This fear-specific trait was independent of other comorbid psychological factors or psychiatric conditions. These results suggest that patients with PNES exhibit disproportionately elevated fear sensitivity on self-report measures when compared with patients with epilepsy. This finding may reflect an elevated internal 'setpoint' for appraising the intensity of emotional settings

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