Cluster analysis of normal personality traits in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures

Dona E. Cragar, David T.R. Berry, Frederick A. Schmitt, Toufic A. Fakhoury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The literature on patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) suggests that they are a heterogeneous population. This study addresses this heterogeneity by describing subtypes of PNES based on a cluster analysis of normal personality traits in patients with PNES. In addition, the identified PNES subtypes are further described on dimensions of psychopathology as measured by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Second Edition (MMPI-2), and cognition. Three personality clusters emerged: (1) very high neuroticism, low extraversion, low openness, high agreeableness, low conscientiousness; (2) average on all domains; (3) very high neuroticism, average extraversion, low openness, low agreeableness, average conscientiousness. Patients in clusters 1 and 3 appear to exhibit more severe psychopathology and a broader range of symptoms than those in cluster 2. Based on NEO-PI-R and MMPI-2 findings, tentative descriptions of the clusters are offered. Cluster 1 comprises "depressed neurotics" cluster 2, "somatic defenders" and cluster 3, "activated neurotics." Clusters 1 and 3 also differ significantly on neurocognitive testing, with cluster 1 significantly lower than cluster 3 in memory functioning, while cluster 2 individuals show generally average cognition across domains. These results suggest the existence of personality subtypes in patients with PNES that should be considered in the design of interventions for them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-600
Number of pages8
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by the Epilepsy Foundation through the generous support of the American Epilepsy Society.


  • Intervention
  • Neuropsychological results
  • Normal personality
  • Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures
  • Psychopathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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