[Foreign accent syndrome in a case of dissociative (conversion) disorder]

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[Foreign accent syndrome in a case of dissociative (conversion) disorder]

[Article in Japanese]

Tsuruga K, Kobayashi T, Hirai N, Kato S.

Department of Psychiatry, Jichi Medical University.

Psychiatric symptoms are often manifested in verbal expression. Generally, the contents of such expression are pathological. The formal abnormalities of speech are also observed in various mental disorders, as far as quantitative abnormalities are concerned. However, disturbance of intonation, namely disprosody, is more commonly observed in organic disorders of the brain. When the accent of words and the intonation of sentences changes from that of a native speaker, the speech sounds like the broken language of untrained foreigners. Such foreign accent syndrome is usually an issue of neuropsychology. In this paper, the authors report a case of foreign accent syndrome without organic brain syndrome. The patient was a 44-year-old woman, who developed panic disorder about year after her father’s death. Then she developed aphonia. After aphonia was resolved, she began to speak haltingly as if a Chinese woman was trying to speak Japanese. Organic brain diseases were subsequently excluded. She had complicated familial conflicts, including a divorce from a violent and faithless husband, interpersonal difficulties with her husband’s parents, and her pubertal daughter. We diagnosed her with dissociative (conversion) disorder of ICD-10. Our patient is clinically interesting, because case reports of dysprosody are unusual and often involve organic brain diseases. We suppose that foreign accent syndrome in our patient is a variant of aphonia, and the patient unconsciously assigned the symptom two ambivalent rolls: to snow that she cannot speak well, and to express her meaning. In addition, she had a Chinese-speaking aunt-in-law who was her ideal role model. We surmise that her symptom signifies identification with her aunt-in-law.

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PMID: 18416192 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]