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What Is Hysterical Blindness?

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Hysterical blindness is a psychological condition in which trauma from an injury or illness renders a patient unable to see temporarily. Medical professionals classify hysterical blindness as “conversion disorder,” a condition that causes you to show psychological stress in a physical manner. While there are many causes of this disorder, most of them point to some type of anxiety or other psychological trauma that triggers this temporary blindness. When determining whether you may be suffering from temporary loss of vision due to psychological distress, it can help to pinpoint some of the symptoms of hysterical blindness and explore some treatment options.

What Occurs during Hysterical Blindness

When you experience this temporary loss of vision, emotional turmoil usually causes you to block off visual impulses from your eyes to your brain, which can render you unable to see temporarily. This happens when hysteria presents itself as an affliction of a sensory organ, such as your eyes. Depression or other emotional symptoms may also be present when you experience this temporary blindness. This disorder is usually most common in females and young adults.

Treatment Options for Hysterical Blindness

Unfortunately, conversion disorder is usually something you cannot control; however, there are some treatment options available. Because a stressful event, emotional conflict, or other mental health issue is usually responsible for this disorder, you should seek treatment from a psychologist or psychiatrist, not an eye care professional. Following are some of the main treatment options for hysterical blindness:

  • Counseling (psychotherapy): visiting a psychologist can help you treat symptoms of this disorder by helping you address the emotional causes behind the problem. This can prevent the loss of vision from recurring and can be extremely helpful if you have chronic anxiety or a mood disorder such as depression.
  • Treating stress-related issues: conversion disorder can improve when you get treatment for stress or anxiety. Your doctor may prescribe a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to help you cope with excessive amounts of stress.
  • Hypnosis: undergoing hypnosis with an expert can help you identify and resolve issues that may be contributing to temporary blindness.

Hysterical blindness is a condition in which emotional or psychological stress and anxiety manifests itself by temporarily shutting off the receptors that enable you to see. Because the cause of this disorder is psychological and not medical, you should seek the care of a psychiatrist or psychologist if you experience temporary blackouts during times of emotional distress.

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