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Author Notes:

Correspondence: Karen S. Rommelfanger, krommel@emory.edu

KR, SF, SL, PR, RY, and MR contributed to drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content.

See publication for full list of acknowledgements.

Conflict of Interest: KR, MR, PR, and RY: none.

SF: Honoraria: Chelsea Therapeutics, Neurocrine, Lundbeck, Auspex/Teva, Avanir, Cynapsus; Grants: Ipsen, Allergan, Medtronics, Auspex, US World Meds, Pharm-Olam, Cynapsus Therapeutics, Solstice, CHDI Foundation, Michael J. Fox Foundation, NIH; Royalties: Demos, Blackwell Futura for textbooks.

SL: Royalties from Demos publishing, editor of “Handbook of ICU EEG Monitoring.”


Research Funding:

Support from the Mark and Barbara Klein Mind-Body Conference Series at Emory.


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurosciences
  • Neurosciences & Neurology
  • psychogenic
  • conversion
  • functional neurological disorders
  • medically unexplained illness
  • stigma
  • education
  • neuroethics
  • multidisciplinary care
  • TERM

Disentangling stigma from Functional Neurological Disorders: conference report and roadmap for the Future


Journal Title:

Frontiers in Neurology


Volume 8


Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


A multidisciplinary expert review of key issues and future directions from the conference “Controversial labels and clinical uncertainties: psychogenic disorders, conversion disorder, and functional symptoms.” On October 9 and 10, 2015, a conference entitled “Controversial labels and clinical uncertainties: psychogenic disorders, conversion disorder, and functional symptoms” was held at the Center for Ethics, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. This conference brought together a select group of 30 distinguished thought leaders and practitioners, including ethicists, researchers, clinicians, humanities scholars, and advocates to discuss the unique challenges and controversies related to the diagnosis, treatment, and stigma for patients with what is currently recognized as functional (“psychogenic”) neurological disorders. Our group of experts explored the conflicts and ethical tensions within health care that must be addressed in order to advance care for these disorders. What follows is a reflection on the conversations between conference attendees outlining key challenges and value conflicts in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with functional disorders. With this report, we aim to provide a roadmap for reducing stigma and improving care for functional neurological disorders (FND). A path forward would involve (1) setting a multifactorial research agenda that equally prioritized access to effective psychotherapy as well as identification of novel biomarkers; (2) empowering patients with FND to be heard and to drive changes in care; and (3) reducing isolation for clinicians by providing formal training and setting up multidisciplinary care teams and support networks.

Copyright information:

© 2017 Rommelfanger, Factor, LaRoche, Rosen, Young and Rapaport.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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