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Somatoform and Other Psychosomatic Disorders

A Dialogue Between Contemporary Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Perspectives

  • Christos Charis
  • Georgia Panayiotou

Table of contents

About this book


 This intriguing volume presents the most contemporary views on the conceptualization and treatment of somatoform disorders and related conditions from experts in psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral approaches. It does so with respect to both perspectives, without advocating for either approach. By presenting expert views from diverse perspectives, the book raises, what is a central point in most of the chapters, that emotion, its processing and regulation, is a cornerstone of these disorders. The volume also highlights the role of pathogenic coping or defense mechanisms like dysfunctional avoidance (from a CBT perspective) and conversion (from the psychodynamic perspective) in the maintenance of psychosomatic symptoms. The volume’s contents include detailed literature reviews on the most common—and most treatment-resistant—mind/body conditions, including chronic pain, responses to trauma, alexithymia, and the spectrum of health anxiety disorders. Noted experts distinguish between types of medically unexplained symptoms, discuss their complex processes, and provide models for intervention where cognitive-behavioral or psychodynamic approaches may be appropriate or effective. And a fascinating case study of a patient presenting multiple trauma-related disorders explores therapist resourcefulness over a course of shifting symptoms and frustrating setbacks.


Among the topics covered:

  •     Maintaining mechanisms of health anxiety: current state of knowledge.
  •     Negative affect and medically unexplained symptoms.
  •     Alexithymia as a core trait in psychosomatic and other psychological disorders.
  •     Trauma and its consequences for body and mind.
  •     Embodied memories, a new pathway to the unconcious.
  •     Psychotherapy among HIV patients: a look at a psychoimmunological research study after 20 years.
  •     Health anxiety: a cognitive-behavioral framework.

The wealth of options discussed in Somatoform and Psychosomatic Disorders offers health psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, counselors, and psychoanalysts bold new ideas for case formulation, treatment planning, and intervention with some of their most intractable cases.


somatoform disorders psychosomatic disorders psychoanalysis for somatoform symptoms behavioral therapy for somatoform symptoms cognitive-behavior therapy for somatoform symptoms somatoform disorders and DSM somatoform disorders and ICD somatoform disorders and health psychology somatoform disorders from psychodynamic perspective maintaining mechanisms in illness and anxiety bodily consequences of trauma alexithymia in psychosomatic disorders acceptance and commitment therapy for chronic pain somatization in hospital setting emotions and medically unexplained symptoms

Editors and affiliations

  • Christos Charis
    • 1
  • Georgia Panayiotou
    • 2
  1. 1.DillenburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and Center for Applied NeuroscienceUniversity of CyprusNicosiaCyprus

About the editors

Dr. Georgia Panayiotou is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Cyprus. She obtained her Masters and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Purdue University, Indiana. She completed her clinical internship at the McLean Hospital of Harvard Medical School. Before returning to Cyprus she was an Assistant Professor at Mississippi State University. Her primary research interests are in the domain of emotional processes in psychopathology and their interaction with cognitive processes, primarily anxiety disorders, alexithymia and antisocial disorders, with the use of both self-report and psychophysiological methods. She has co-ordinated or was co-PI on multiple nationally funded projects and has participated in European projects and is also a core researcher and member of the Academic Board at the Center for Applied Neurosciences at the University of Cyprus. She is currently Chair of the Department of Psychology and elected member of the University of Cyprus Senate. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and served several terms as vice-chair of the Cyprus Psychologists Association and Cyprus Professional Psychology Licensing Board.

Christos Charis is a psychiatrist in private practice in Dillenburg, Germany, and a part time consultant for the outpatient department of the Vitos Klinik Bamberger Hospital in Frankfurt am Main. HIs primary interests are somatoform disorders, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders. Dr. Charis and his co-editor, Professor Georgia Panagiotou , organized a seminar on Cyprus about anxiety disorders  in 2012, from which several of the chapters in this project were derived.​

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