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Behavioural Theory of Conversion Disorder

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SOC 102
Ron Babin

Behavioural Theory of Conversion Disorder: view conversion disorder as similar to malingering in that the person adopts the symptom to secure some end. Ulman and Krasner specify two conditions that increase the likelihood that motor and sensory disabilities will be imitated. First, the individual must have has some experience with the role to be adopted; he or she may have had similar physical problems or may have observed them in others. Second, he enactment of a role must be rewarded; an individual will assume a disability only if it can be expected wither to reduce stress or to reap other positive consequences. Social and Cultural Factors in Conversion Disorder: There has been a decrease in the incidence of conversion disorder over the last century. In the second half of the nineteenth century, repressive sexual attitudes may have contributed to the increased prevalence of the disorder. The decrease in its incidence, then, may be attributed to a general relaxing of sexual mores. Conversion disorder is more common among people with lower socio-economic status and from rural areas, who may be less knowledgeable about medical and psychological concepts. Biological Factors In Conversion Disorder: though genetic factors have been proposed as being important in the development of conversion disorder, research does not support this proposal, according to twin studies. No co-twin has the same diagnosis as his or her proband. The majority of conversion symptoms may be related to the functioning of the right hemisphere. Research has shown that the right hemisphere can generate emotions, and it is suspected of generating more emotions, particularly unpleasant ones, than are generated by the left hemisphere. Studies conducted thus far are limited in several respects: - The use of small and heterogeneous samples (few participants) - Differences in the duration of the deficit (chronic vs. acute) - The possible confounding influences of co-morbid conditions such as depression and chronic pain. Data point
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