Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Holistic Health Studies


Holistic Health

First Advisor

Carol Geisler


Holistic Health Studies


Trauma from abuse is complex and can manifest in many ways in the body, including psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES), a kind of dissociation that resembles a seizure but is not an epileptic seizure. Medical practitioners often misdiagnose and misjudge people with PNES, and as a result, patients often feel stigmatized and misunderstood. The purpose of this research using an arts-informed method is to describe the experiences of adults diagnosed with PNES and their perceptions of interactions with medical practitioners relative to their PNES care. Using non-probability sampling via social media, six participants with a self-reported PNES diagnosis submitted a description of their experience with PNES with medical practitioners in writing. Then they created artwork to depict their experience with healthcare providers and submit it or a photograph of it. They wrote a paragraph to describe their artwork. Four themes emerged using Thematic Analysis: pattern of repeated trauma from sexual abuse; internal and external chaos; stigma; and unsupportive and supportive experiences with medical practitioners. More research and education are needed for medical practitioners to recognize, validate, accurately diagnose, and effectively treat PNES. Supportive medical practitioners who treat their patients with PNES holistically could change mental health policies, promote advocacy and reduce stigma.