The changing faces of somatization

Psychosomatics. Spring 1990;31(2):153-8. doi: 10.1016/S0033-3182(90)72188-3.


The prevalence of several diseases popularized by the media is examined in a group of 50 consecutive patients allegedly suffering from environmental hypersensitivity disorder. Ninety percent of patients reported suffering from at least one other "fashionable" condition, including food allergies that cause psychological symptoms, postinfectious neuromyasthenia, candidiasis hypersensitivity, and severe premenstrual syndrome. Each of the conditions named above was endorsed by at least 50% of patients. Multiple endorsements were common, and the patients' attribution of the etiology of their symptoms varied with time. Physicians must become adept at identifying and managing somatizing patients, and the public must be educated about somatization and provided with reliable information about "fashionable" illnesses.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurasthenia / diagnosis
  • Neurasthenia / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sick Role*
  • Social Environment*
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology*