Patients With Conversion Disorder and Medical Controls: Comparing Emotional Awareness

Award Date

Fall 2012

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Advisor 1

Kimberly A. Barchard

First Committee Member

Tish Smyer

Second Committee Member

Daniel N. Allen

Third Committee Member

Marta Meana


Patients with somatoform disorders have physical ailments that cannot be explained by other medical or psychological conditions (APA, 2000). One type of somatoform disorder is conversion disorder. Patients with conversion disorder have symptoms related to the voluntary central nervous system, such as seizures and motor-sensory deficits (APA, 2000). Patients with conversion disorder often have alexithymia (Cox, Kuch, Parker, Shulman, & Evans, 1994). People with alexithymia have difficulty putting their emotions into words (Jones, Schettler, Olden, & Crowell, 2004). The Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS; Lane, Quinlan, Schwartz, & Walker, 1990) is used to measure alexithymia. It asks respondents how they would feel in 20 emotionally evocative situations. The LEAS can be scored by hand or by computerized scoring (Barchard, Bajgar, Leaf, & Lane, 2010). This study compared LEAS scores of patients with conversion disorder to LEAS scores of medical controls and to patients with Functional Somatic Syndromes (FSS), using both hand and computerized scoring of the LEAS. In addition, this study examined the relationship between hand and computerized scoring. Several computerized scoring methods exist for the LEAS. In this study, computerized scoring was done through the Program for Open Ended Scoring (Barchard, Bajgar, Leaf, & Lane, 2010; Leaf & Barchard, 2010) using Wordlist 2.4 (Barchard, 2010). The computerized scoring method used was the Highest40-AllinOne. This method sums 40 unique words that have the highest scores across all 20 items. A total of 89 participants completed the LEAS. There was no significant difference between the three different groups, for either hand scoring or computerized scoring. However, there was a high positive correlation between hand and computerized scoring. Thus, the Highest40-AllinOne method may be used instead of hand scoring in certain situations. However, the Highest40-AllinOne method needs to be tested on other clinical populations before being used in place of hand scoring.


Alexithymia – Testing; Conversion disorder; Psychological tests; Somatoform disorders


Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Clinical Psychology | Cognition and Perception | Community-Based Research | Psychological Phenomena and Processes




Incomplete paper data


Due to privacy and licensing concerns, we are unable to post this paper at this time.