, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 31-51

The Phenomenology of Psychosis Associated with Complex Partial Seizure Disorder

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Abstract

Psychosis commonly occurs as a direct result of complex partial seizure disorder (CPSD). This organic mental disorder is indeed “complex” and is easily and frequently misdiagnosed as a variety of functional disorders, including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar illness, psychotic depression, and, at best, “atypical psychosis.” However, this important clinical syndrome has several clinical features that suggest its presence and which often permit it to be distinguished from other forms of psychosis. Furthermore, this disorder can be successfully treated with limbic anticonvulsants, with or without neuroleptics and/or lithium, but it is generally refractory to neuroleptic medications alone. In this paper, the author reviews the available literature relevant to the clinical phenomenology and treatment of this topic and illustrates the clinical profiles of 10 treatment-refractory patients admitted to a state hospital with previously undiagnosed psychoses secondary to CPSD. This illness needs to be seriously considered in the differential diagnosis of severely ill patients with atypical psychoses refractory to traditional treatments.