Anxiety and avoidance in psychogenic nonepileptic seizures: The role of implicit and explicit anxiety

Lian V. Dimaro, David L. Dawson, Nicole Roberts, Ian Brown, Nima G. Moghaddam, Markus Reuber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


This study examined implicit and explicit anxiety in individuals with epilepsy and psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNESs) and explored whether these constructs were related to experiential avoidance and seizure frequency. Based on recent psychological models of PNESs, it was hypothesized that nonepileptic seizures would be associated with implicit and explicit anxiety and experiential avoidance. Explicit anxiety was measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory; implicit anxiety was measured by an Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure; and experiential avoidance was measured with the Multidimensional Experiential Avoidance Questionnaire. Although both groups with epilepsy and PNESs scored similarly on implicit measures of anxiety, significant implicit-explicit anxiety discrepancies were only identified in patients with PNESs (p< .001). In the group with PNESs (but not in the group with epilepsy), explicit anxiety correlated with experiential avoidance (r= .63, p<. .01) and frequency of seizures (r= .67, p<. .01); implicit anxiety correlated with frequency of seizures only (r= .56, p<. .01). Our findings demonstrate the role of implicit anxiety in PNESs and provide additional support for the contribution of explicit anxiety and experiential avoidance to this disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Anxiety
  • Avoidance
  • Implicit
  • Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure
  • Nonepileptic
  • Seizures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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