Table 4 Examples of changes in thoughts and behaviour that can help in patients with functional symptoms
Dissociative seizuresFunctional weaknessChronic back pain
Old thought“Oh no—what’s happening to me. Am I going to die during one of these attacks?”“I’ve got MS; I’m going to end up in a wheelchair. No one believes me”“My spine is damaged, I must avoid moving too much in case it makes it worse”
New thought“I’m having something a bit like a panic attack”“Mmm … this is odd but it looks as if I can get better.”“My bones are fine, its my muscles that are stiff and out of condition”
Old behaviourAvoid going out, tendency to succumb to blackout as a way of getting rid of horrible warning symptomsSeeing lots of specialists, not doing very much in case it makes it worseAvoiding exercise/back movement
New behaviourTry out distraction techniques during warning symptomsGradually exercise, learn to expect relapsesGradually exercise, change sleep patterns