Toward the end of the 19th century, Janet suggested that the fundamental
disorder in hysteria was one of attention. The authors examined this idea
in a study of habituation. Patients with a history of prolonged conversion
symptons (N = 11) showed a severe impairment in habituation when compared
with patients with anxiety neuroses (N = 10). This finding cannot be
explained in terms of arousal and suggests that selective inattention is
deficient in hysterical individuals.