Functional (psychogenic non-epileptic/dissociative) seizures: why and how?

Functional seizures (FS) known also as psychogenic non-epileptic seizures or dissociative seizures, present with ictal semiological manifestations, along with various comorbid neurological and psychological disorders. Terminology inconsistencies and discrepancies in nomenclatures of FS may reflect limitations in understanding the neuropsychiatric intricacies of this disorder. Psychological and neurobiological processes of FS are incompletely understood. Nevertheless, important advances have been made on underlying neuropsychopathophysiological mechanisms of FS. These advances provide valuable information about the underlying mechanisms of mind–body interactions. From this perspective, this narrative review summarises recent studies about aetiopathogenesis of FS at two levels: possible risk factors (why) and different aetiopathogenic models of FS (how). We divided possible risk factors for FS into three categories, namely neurobiological, psychological and cognitive risk factors. We also presented different models of FS based on psychological and neuroanatomical understanding, multilevel models and integrative understanding of FS. This work should help professionals to better understand current views on the multifactorial mechanisms involved in the development of FS. Shedding light on the different FS profiles in terms of aetiopathogenesis will help guide how best to direct therapy, based on these different underlying mechanisms.

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