Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 167–186 | Cite as

A cross sectional study of somatic complaints of Nigerian females using the Enugu Somatization Scale

  • Peter O. Ebigbo


Among Nigerian mentally ill a constant male-female ratio of 2:1, over-representation of single males and married females and the tendency for the females who seek psychiatric aid to be psychotic with schizoaffective disturbances have been observed. The question arose as to why this is so. To answer this, the Enugu Somatization Scale, developed in an effort to avoid the difficulty encountered in using Western diagnostic illness categories and scales for assessing mental illness in Nigeria was administered to 51 mentally ill females, 60 adolescent secondary school girls, 67 post secondary school females, 149 pregnant females, and 60 women who were once able to bear children but now no longer can. It was found that somatization is used by Nigerian females to contain their stress. The pregnant females scored lowest while those women who can no longer deliver scored highest. Pregancy is seen as a state of rest from societal stress for the females, who otherwise are not allowed by the society to be so mentally ill as to seek a psychiatrist and who have to be psychotic to be able to do so. Various tentative, dynamic explanations of the items in the scale answered in the affirmative by a wide cross section of the women, based on the clinical experience of the author, are offered.


Somatic Complaint Pregnant Female Single Male School Girl Wide Cross 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter O. Ebigbo
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Nigeria Teaching HospitalEnuguNigeria

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