Characteristics of Male Veterans with Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. B.A. Dworetzky at Brigham & Women's Hospital, 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115, U.S.A. E-mail:


Summary: Purpose: To describe male patients (pts) with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNESs) followed up in a Veteran's Administration (VA) seizure clinic and to compare them with those with epileptic seizures (ESs) by using clinical, and psychosocial variables.

Methods: Adult male veterans seen between 1997 and 2000 with ESs were compared with those with PNESs with respect to clinical history (head trauma, antiepileptic drug exposure, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, seizure description), documented chronic pain, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), compensation for diagnosis, neurologic examination, and test results including imaging and EEG data.

Results: Men with PNESs were younger and reported more frequent events, and diagnoses of chronic pain, anxiety, and PTSD were significantly greater. Neuroimaging [computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain] and neurologic examination were significantly more likely to be normal or nonspecific in pts with PNESs, although history of ictal urinary incontinence or service-connected compensation for diagnosis did not distinguish the groups.

Conclusions: Male veterans with PNESs have characteristics similar to those reported in the literature, even though younger women have dominated previously studied populations. Compared with men with ESs, those with PNESs are more likely to have chronic pain, anxiety, and PTSD, as well as normal examinations and brain imaging.