A Spectrum of Conversion and Somatization Disorders in Children

  • Elsa G. Shapiro
  • Alvin A. Rosenfeld
Part of the Contributions to Psychology and Medicine book series (CONTRIBUTIONS)


We have seen many children with somatoform disorders in pediatric neurology and neuropsychology inpatient and outpatient services (E.G.S. and N.C.), in a child psychiatry setting (A.R.), and in a general pediatric practice (D.A.L.). Before an attempt at classification is made, however, some characteristics of childhood conversion and somatization disorders should be discussed, because such reactions in childhood differ in important ways from adult disorders. Rather than extrapolating from the adult literature or from DSM III on to children, we present categories with case examples that reflect the symptom patterns we have observed.


Somatic Symptom Child Psychiatry Learning Disabil Conversion Reaction Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (1980). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders ( 3rd ed. ). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  2. Carek, D.J., & Santos, A.B. (1984). Atypical somatoform disorder following infection in childrena depressive equivalent? Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 45, 108–111.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Ernst, A.R., Routh, D.K., & Harper, D. (1984). Abdominal pain in children and symptoms of somatization disorder. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 9, 77–86.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Forbis, O.L., & Jones, R.H. (1965). Hysteria in childhood. Southern Medical Journal, 58, 1221–1225.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Goodyer, I. (1981). Hysterical conversion reactions in childhood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 22, 179–188.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hinman, A. (1958). Conversion hysteria in childhood. American Journal of Diseases in Children, 95, 42–45.Google Scholar
  7. Laybourne, T.C., & Churchill, S.W. (1972). Symptom discouragement in treating hysterical reactions in childhood. International Journal of Psychotherapy, 1, 111–123.Google Scholar
  8. Looff, D.H. (1970). Psychophysiologic and conversion reactions in children. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 9, 318–331.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Maloney, M. (1980). Diagnosing hysterical conversion reactions in children. Journal of Pediatrics, 97, 1016–1020.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Proctor, J.T. (1958). Hysteria in childhood. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 28, 394–407.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Schneider, S., & Rice, D. (1979). Neurologic manifestations of childhood hysteria. Pediatrics, 94, 153–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Shapiro, E., & Rosenfeld, A.A (1986). Monosymptomatic and polysymptomatic somatoform disorders in children and adolescents. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  13. Volkmar, F.R., Poll, J., & Lewis, M. (1984). Conversion reactions in childhood and adolescence. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 23, 424–430.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Whitlock, F.A. (1967). The aetiology of hysteria. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 43, 144–162.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Woodruff, R.A., Clayton, P.J., & Guze, S.B. (1969). Hysteria. British Journal of Psychiatry, 128, 1243–1248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elsa G. Shapiro
    • 1
  • Alvin A. Rosenfeld
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Pediatric NeurologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Psychiatric ServicesJewish Child Care Association of New YorkNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations