Conversion disorder is a psychiatric condition in which a person develops physical symptoms that are not under voluntary control and are not explained by a neurological disease or another medical condition. Conversion disorder is also called functional neurological symptom disorder, referring to abnormal central nervous system functioning. A key feature of conversion disorder is the incompatibility between an individual’s symptoms and recognized neurological or medical conditions.
To be diagnosed with conversion disorder, the physical symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment in day-to-day functioning. If the conversion symptoms are commonly seen within a culture and do not cause significant distress or disability, then a diagnosis of conversion disorder would not be given.
Symptoms of conversion disorder can be temporary or can persist for a long period of time. Temporary symptoms of conversion disorder are common, but the prevalence of the condition is not known. Conversion disorder is two to three times more common in females than males. The rate of new diagnoses of persistent conversion symptoms is approximately two to five cases per 100,000 each year.