Deception in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Psychogenic Non-epileptic Seizures image

February 4, 2016 4:30 - 6:00 PM
Lectures and Panels
Tosteson Medical Education Center 250
Harvard Medical School, 260 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA

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Event Description

Neurologists who treat epilepsy face substantial difficulty distinguishing "true" seizures caused by abnormal electrical discharges from seizures that are caused by psychological factors (psychogenic nonepileptic seizures, or PNES). The distinction is important, because the treatments for electrical seizures and PNES are very different--PNES can be provoked by a suggestion, whereas electrical seizures cannot. Can doctors ethically use placebos or suggestion in order to provoke psychogenic nonepileptic seizures? If this is deception, is it justified? How much deception is permissible? 


  • Selim Benbadis MD, University of South Florida College of Medicine

  • Benjamin Tolchin MD, Harvard Medical School

  • J. Wesley Boyd MD, PhD, Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics

Ways to Join

This event is free and open to the public, but if you are not affiliated with Harvard you must register to attend. Please bring proof of ID to the event due to building security. REGISTER NOW!

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Neuroethics Seminar Series

This event is part of a series hosted by the Center for Biothics at Harvard Medical School. For more information, visit the website.


  • The International Neuroethics Society

  • The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, Harvard Law School

  • Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior, MGH

  • Institute for the Neurosciences, BWH

  • Center for Brain Science, Harvard University

  • Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School

With funding from

  • Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative, Harvard University

  • The Harvard Brain Initiative Collaborative Seed Grant Program


bioethics   doctor-patient relationship   mental health   neuroscience