Do you think I experienced psychiatric conversion?
July 25, 2010 11:50 AM   Subscribe

Do you think I experienced psychiatric conversion disorder, or does it just seem coincidental?

First off, thank you very much for taking the time to review this question. I appreciate any insights you might have to offer.

I very recently was reading "Travels" by Michael Crichton (a non-fiction work). In it while reviewing his time at Harvard Medical school he shares a conversation he had with a Dr. It involved Psychiatric conversion. I knew of this mental disorder, but had never really thought about it before, but the way it was worded in the book made me analyze two different events in my life and wonder if possibly I have experienced conversion disorder.

First event: in 2006, newly married I was certain that I just "knew" everything and was going to have a serious talk with my father (and employer) about being on a far more "equal" status than we had previously been. Part of this confidence may also have come from my taking of zoloft for a few months prior, but it might just be a total coincidence. I have everything planned and am going to meet with him in the morning, when all of a sudden in the early evening I have rather severe (or seemed to me to be severe anyways) chest pains. They continue for over 2 hrs. and I wind up going to the ER to get a run up. Long story short, nothing was significantly wrong and there was no apparent medical cause for my chest pains that night, but due to all the commotion of it I never met with my father. Was that just a subconscious defense mechanism, or am I over reaching?

Second event: In early 2009 I am very busy and happy while working at a different job that involved quite a bit of travel. My confidence is sky high and I again plan to have a serious conversation with my Dad (we're not working together at this point). 2 days before my planned meeting with him I started having these "spells" where I could not speak and my movement was very limited. They were very odd and frightening and I had a lot of different tests to try and figure out what it was. The final consensus from the Dr's was that it was an odd type of migraine.

Now, here is why I never even considered that it might've been conversion in those instances in the past. First off, I was not nervous about meeting with my dad. I was calm, confident, knew what to say etc... Also, while He is difficult to communicate with (we have very different personalities), he is a great, loving, supportive, (if not a bit controlling), father. I was never abused and I don't have any emotional issues of any kind that regard him.

So to sum it all up, do you think it was just a coincidence that these two events happened when I had a serious meeting planned with my dad? Or, could it be some type of psychiatric conversion? If it is conversion, what on earth could you do to stop/change it? I certainly never wanted any of the issues that happened to happen and I would love to avoid it in the future if at all possible. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and share your thoughts. Have a great day!

PS: I did this anonymously because it felt a bit personal, but if you have any specific questions that you think might aid any advice please email me at
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Seems like you meet most of the criteria but determining the connection between your pain and your relationship with your father isn't really something anyone here can definitively say. It takes someone with a clinical background and a few hours of face to face time. Honestly, if you have some concern and this keeps happening, it might be worth seeing a therapist about it.
I would recommend someone with a background in the biopsychosocial approach. They will consider all the various factors in your signs and symptoms. They will also be much more likely to work with your physician and gather a detailed genogram/family history.
posted by WhiteWhale at 12:03 PM on July 25, 2010

A specialist in psychosomatic disorders would be useful to you. I believe previous askers have detailed their experiences with that sort of doc, but I'm not in a position to search the archives right now.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 12:12 PM on July 25, 2010

I'm more interested in why you didn't go ahead and follow up with your serious talk after your medical issues were dealt with. That might give you more of a useful answer than anyone here could (with the exception of any therapists around.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:29 PM on July 25, 2010

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you might be over-(self)-diagnosing this. The symptoms you describe (chest pains, difficulty speaking, difficulty moving legs, possible migraine)... these are all also symptoms of panic attacks (though the legs part is definitely more rare, a search of Google does bring up results). So, yeah- you really need to discuss this with a professional.
posted by mireille at 12:55 PM on July 25, 2010

Seconding mireille: What you experienced might have been panic attacks--but nobody on the internet is going to be able to tell you for sure.

This is the sort of thing that it would be good to talk to a professional about (start with your GP, if you have a good relationship). You may also want to ask yourself why it's so important to be able to have a named diagnosis. If, depending on what your doctor suggests, you end up getting referred to a mental health practitioner, that might be a good topic for discussion.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 1:52 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

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