Deception in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Psychogenic Non-epileptic Seizures

A Neuroethics Seminar

Neurologists who treat epilepsy face substantial difficulty distinguishing "true" seizures caused by abnormal electrical discharges from seizures that are caused by psychological factors (psychogenic nonepileptic seizures, or PNES). The distinction is important, because the treatments for electrical seizures and PNES are very different--PNES can be provoked by a suggestion, whereas electrical seizures cannot. Can doctors ethically use placebos or suggestion in order to provoke psychogenic nonepileptic seizures? If this is deception, is it justified? How much deception is permissible?

Watch "Deception in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Psychogenic Non-epileptic Seizures"
with panelists

Selim Benbadis MD
University of South Florida College of Medicine

Benjamin Tolchin MD
Harvard Medical School

J. Wesley Boyd MD, PhD
Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics