Patients Who Amplify Bodily Sensations

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Abstract

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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