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Diagnosis and Treatment |

Patients Who Amplify Bodily Sensations

[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Arthur J. Barsky III, M.D.; Acute Psychiatry Service, Massachusetts General Hospital; Boston, MA 02114.

Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts

© 1979 American College of PhysiciansThe American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1979;91(1):63-70. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-91-1-63
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Patients troubled by symptoms, regardless of the degree of demonstrable disease, are subject to forces that cause them to amplify, focus upon, and worry about these bodily perceptions. These forces are psychological, sociocultural, or part of the medical care process. Optimal management of the symptomatic and somatizing patient thus entails obtaining psychological information about emotional precipitants, relevant childhood experiences, psychiatric disorders, and the personal meaning of the symptom; searching for the somatizing personality themes of masochism and guilt, hostility, and dependence; understanding the patient's goals in obtaining medical care, such as information and explanation, psychological counseling, or social and administrative intervention; and assessing situational stress, secondary gain, and ethnic and cultural forces that foster the amplification of physical symptoms.





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