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We reviewed all patients with dissociative disorders (nine patients with dissociative amnesia or dissociative fugue) and conversion disorders (10 patients) who were admitted and treated during the past 15 years. Needs frustrated at the appearance of the symptoms and those fulfilled at discharge were studied in both groups using Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The patients of both groups who encountered troubles in their life events were found to have frustrated needs. These symptoms tended to be accompanied more often by frustrations regarding a ‘need for love’ in the dissociative disorders group and by frustration in the need for ‘self-esteem and self-actualization’ in the conversion disorders group. In addition, needs of lower orders were already threatened at onset in many patients. The symptoms disappeared in patients in whom the situation completely improved (needs were fulfilled), but the symptoms were alleviated or unchanged in those in whom the problems remained unresolved.