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Reflection of Psychology on the Body: Somatic Symptom Disorders

Somatoform disorders, or somatoform disorders, are excessive preoccupations with physical symptoms or one’s health, although they do not have any medical equivalent. These disorders have a wide variety of classifications such as somatic symptom disorder (somatization), illness anxiety disorder (hypochondriasis), conversion disorder (conversion), and factitious disorder. Thoughts about bodily symptoms or being sick can be disturbing, as they can harm individuals’ interpersonal relationships as well as their functioning in daily and professional life.

Achieving a psychological integrity and maintaining a state of well-being is related to the harmony between body, thoughts and emotions. The idioms used in daily life such as “staying in the crop of joy, breathing through the nose, jumping into the blood brain, turning pale, knotted in the throat, coming to the mouth of the heart” actually show that emotions such as anger, sadness and fear are experienced through the body. From time to time, emotions that cannot be expressed in the person, some unresolved internal conflicts and exaggerated perception of bodily sensations can be expressed by finding language in the body. What is meant by finding language in the body is that the person suffers from some symptoms and these symptoms do not have a physiological basis as a result of the doctor’s evaluation. In other words, individuals with somatic symptom disorders do have symptoms in their bodies that they really complain about, but there is no evidence to confirm this situation medically.

For example, a person who consults a doctor thinking that a chronic headache is related to a brain tumor and no problem is found in the performed brain imaging tests may experience temporary relief. However, after a short time passes, he repeats his concerns that he has a brain tumor, and in order to resolve these concerns, he can visit the doctor to get an opinion. In somatic symptom disorders, the person verbally says, “I feel sad, so I need some support.” He may say, “I have a headache” to meet this need. Another example might be that a woman who often argues with her husband faints to protect herself from the hurtful words she hears, and these fainting cannot be explained by a neurological finding. Individuals may need a concrete diagnosis that is expected to be made by a doctor, as the situation experienced may be difficult to accept by the person from time to time due to the psychological origin of the situation. Thus, they both avoid the pain of giving voice to suppressed emotions or confronting these emotions, and they can develop a secondary gain with the attention they receive from their environment. Because, unfortunately, in some cultures, emotional needs are generally not listened to much, but when the situation turns into physical/physical health, the needs expected from the environment can be met. Therefore, somatization is used by the person as a coping strategy.

In What Forms Can Somatic Symptom Disorders Occur?

Somatic symptom disorders can occur in various types. The first of these is somatic symptom disorder, which is characterized by physical symptoms such as pain, exhaustion and fatigue. People have intense anxiety that is disproportionate to the importance of the symptoms and their minds are constantly preoccupied with these symptoms. Even if it is proven that these individuals do not experience any problems at different doctor visits, their anxiety levels do not decrease. Another type is illness anxiety disorder, which is manifested by the worry that the person has or will have a serious illness such as cancer. In Illness Anxiety Disorder, the person may display excessive health behaviors such as frequent body scans for disease symptoms or avoiding the hospital because they may be diagnosed with a disease. In this disorder, people generally do not complain of a somatic symptom. In the case of physical symptoms (for example, dizziness on sudden awakening, temporary tinnitus, etc.), these symptoms are generally not a sign of any disease. Another disorder within the scope of somatic symptom disorders is known as conversion disorder. This disorder progresses with symptoms such as fainting, blindness, double vision, numbness in the arms or legs, impaired speech, and gait disturbances. However, these symptoms cannot be explained by a neurological or other medical condition. In another type of factitious disorder, people voluntarily create symptoms of a medical or mental disorder in themselves or in others (such as their children). The person shows himself or another person incapable of work, sick or injured, and for these people, hospitalization has become a way of life.

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