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A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Minerva Pediatrica 2004 August;56(4):445-52

language: English, Italian

Dissociative disorder in children. A case study

Donfrancesco R., Dell'Uomo A., Mugnaini D., Palla B.


Dissociative disorder is well-known in adulthood but in many cases it begins in childhood where it is usually not taken into consideration, rarely diagnosed, and often mistaken with borderline disorders. In childhood dissociation is well-defined: in a dimensional way by the presence of the dissociation symptoms over 2 SD and in a categorial view by the presence of primary symptoms. We made a psychiatric assessment on a child aged 11 years and 7 months, who said he heard ''voices in his head''. The assessment included: Children Dissociative Checklist (CDC), Adolescent Dissociative Experience Scale (A-DES), Children Depression Inventory (CDI), Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children-Revised (WISC-R), Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), Children Behaviour Check-list (CBCL), (Scale Disturbi Attenzione Genitori, parent attention deficit scale, SDAG), Parent Conners Questionnaire, free conversation, a drawing, a neurological examination , an EEG-Holter and a semistructured psychiatric interview: K-SADS PL 1.0. SDQ, CDI and CBCL showed pathological scores in every area. K-SADS PL 1.0 excluded schizophrenia and showed: attention deficit, disthymic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, oppositive-defiant disorder and conduct disorder with rage episodes, like borderline disorder. I.Q. was 76, SDAG (total 46) and Conners (mean points 1.81) showed a high score, simulating Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The presence of primary symptoms, like dissociative amnesia and very high scores in CDC (23, mean score for MPD) and in A-DES (85, mean 4.2) are useful for diagnoses. Dissociative disorder also exists in childhood, but it should be differentiated from ADHD and borderline disorder.

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