Childhood emotional abuse and dissociation in patients with conversion symptoms


Vedat Sar, MD, Istanbul Tip Fakültesi Psikiyatri Klinigi, 34390 Capa, Istanbul, Turkey. Email:


Aim:  The aim of the present study was to evaluate the relationship between reported childhood trauma and dissociation in patients who have a conversion symptom.

Method:  Thirty-two outpatients with a conversion symptom were evaluated using Dissociative Experiences Scale, Somatoform Dissociation Questionnaire, Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, Spielberger Trait Anxiety Inventory, Clinician-Administered Dissociative State Scale, and Dissociative Disorders Interview Schedule.

Results:  A DSM-IV dissociative disorder was diagnosed in 46.9% of the patients. Conversion patients with a dissociative disorder had borderline personality disorder more frequently than those without a dissociative disorder. Among childhood trauma types, emotional abuse was the only significant predictor of dissociation in regression analysis. None of the childhood trauma types predicted borderline personality disorder criteria.

Conclusions:  Borderline personality disorder, dissociation and reports of childhood emotional abuse refer to a subgroup among patients with conversion symptom. Dissociation seems to be a mediator between childhood trauma and borderline phenomena among these patients.