The Treatment of Somatization

  • Robert Kellner


Somatizing patients have been regarded by many authors to have a poor prognosis (Kellner, 1986). In outcome studies of psychotherapy they have been found to respond less well to conventional psychotherapy than patients with emotional symptoms (Rosenberg, 195A; Stone, Frank, Nash, and Imber, 1961) and generally have been judged to be poor candidates for psychotherapy. However, these views are in conflict with good outcomes reported in several uncontrolled studies of patients with functional somatic symptoms. For example, a large proportion of patients with benign chest pain (Cope, 1969) or neurocirculatory asthenia (Cohen and White, 1951), treated only with reassurance and explanation, apparently recovered. In general medical practice a substantial proportion of patients with functional somatic symptoms recover without specific treatments (Thomas, 1978).


Irritable Bowel Syndrome Somatic Symptom Tension Headache Individual Psychotherapy General Medical Practice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Blanchard, E. B., Andrasik, F., Ahles, T. A., Teders, S. J., O’Keefe, D. (1980). Migraine and tension headache: A meta-analytic review. Behavioural Therapy, 11, 613–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cope, R. L. (1969). The psychogenic factor in chest pain. Texas Medicine, 65, 78–81.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Cohen, M. E., White, P. D. (1951). Life situations, emotions and neurocirculatory asthenia. Psychsomatic Medicine, 13, 335–357.Google Scholar
  4. Chappell, M. N., Stevenson, T. I. (1936). Group psychological training in some organic conditions. Mental Hygiene, 20, 588–597.Google Scholar
  5. Draspa, L. J. (1959). Psychological factors in muscular pain. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 32, 106–116.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Editorial. (1980). Biofeedback and tension headache. Lancet, pp. 898–899.Google Scholar
  7. Holyrod, K. A. Andrasik, F. &Westbrook, T. (1977). Cognitive control of tension headache. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 1, 121–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Jessup, B. A., Neufeld, R. W. J., &Merskey, H. (1979). Biofeedback therapy for headache and other pain: An evaluative review. Pain, 7, 225–270.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kellner, R. (1986). Somatization and hypochondriasis. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  10. Langer, E. J., Janis, I. L., &Wolfer, J. A. (1975). Reduction of psychological stress in surgical patients. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 11, 155–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Mally, M. A., &Ogston, W. D. (1964). Treatment of the “untreatables”. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 14, 369–374.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Melson, S. J., Rynearson, E. K., Dortzbach, J., Clark, R. D., &Snyder, A. L. (1982). Short-term intensive group psychotherapy for patients with “functional” complaints. Psychosomatics, 23, 689–695.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Rosenberg, S. (1954). The relationship of certain personality factors to prognosis in psychotherapy. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 10, 341– 345.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Roskin, G., Mehr, A., Rabiner, C. J., &Rosenberg, C. (1980-1981). Psychiatric treatment of chronic somatizing patients: A pilot study. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 10, 181–187.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Rybstein-Blinchik, E. (1979). Effects of different cognitive strategies on chronic pain experience. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 2, 93–101.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Sapira, J. D. (1972). Reassurance therapy. Annals of Internal Medicine, 77, 603–604.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Stone, A. R., Frank, J. D., Nash, E. H., &Imber, S. D. (1961). An intensive five-year follow-up study of treated psychiatric outpatients. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders, 133, 410–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Svedlund, J., Ottoson, J., Sjödin, I. &Dotevall, G. (1983, September 10). Controlled study of psychotherapy in irritable bowel syndrome. Lancet, pp. 589–592.Google Scholar
  19. Thomas, K. B. (1978). The consultation and the therapeutic illusion. British Medical Journal, 1 ,1327–1328.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Kellner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of New Mexico School of MedicineUSA

Personalised recommendations