The most common
characteristic of the somatoform disorder is the appearance of physical
symptoms or complaints of such without any organic basis. Such
dysfunctional symptoms tend to range from a specialized sensory or motor
diability to hypersensitivity to pain. Four major somatoform disorders
exist: conversion disorder (also known as hysteria), hypochondriasis,
somatization disorder, and somatoform pain disorder.
is often a lack or change in physical functioning. The diseased often
react with an attitude of indifference, showing an amazing lack of
concern. However, the primary symptoms which may include such serious
ailments as blindness, amnesia and paralysis, are used as a defense
mechanism by the person to escape from a stressful situation. In
addition, there may be an awareness of the gains possible through the
use of the symptom, which may prolong the symptom. Symptoms are grouped
Symptoms: These include anesthesia, excessive sensitivity to strong
simulation (hyperanesthesia), loss of sense of pain (analgesia), and
unusual symptoms such as tingling or crawling sensations.
Motor Symptoms: In motor symptoms, any of the body's muscle
groups may be involved: arms, legs, vocal chords. Included are tremors,
tics (involuntary twitches), and disorganized mobility or paralysis.
Visceral Symptoms: Examples are trouble swallowing, frequent
belching, spells of coughing or vomiting, all carried to an uncommon
extreme. In both sensory and motor symptoms, the areas affected may not
correspond at all to the nerve distribution in the area."
conversion disorder where an individual perceives a functional disorder
and simply use it to escape from uncomfortable situations,
hypochondriacs have no real illness, but is overly obsessed over normal
bodily functions. They read into the sensations of these normal bodily
functions the presence of a feared disease. Symptoms:
magnifies small irregularities in bodily functions, real or imagined,
and then express concerns over their general health. Focus may lie on a
changing area of the bodily system or be specific, such as a certain
believed lung condition. Usually, the individual seeks opinions of many
physicians and take pleasure in criticizing there methodology when they
are diagnosed as perfectly healthy. Still, these individuals tend to
lead a fairly normal life with some difficulty in the area of
interpersonal relationships. Rarely, an afflicted person becomes a
lifelong invalid and cease most independent activity, relying on others
to care for their needs.
history of many
beginning before age
30 years that occur
over a period of
several years and
result in treatment
being sought or
Pain in one or more anatomical sites is
the predominant focus of the clinical presentation and
is of sufficient severity to warrant clinical attention.
The pain causes clinically significant distress or
impairment in social, occupational, or other important
areas of functioning.