Changing Concept of Disorders with Somatic Symptoms in Psychiatry

  • Kyung Bong Koh


The history of disorders with somatic symptoms in psychiatry means the history of psychosomatic medicine. Psychosomatic medicine mainly includes somatization and psychological factors affecting other medical conditions (PFAOMC). Somatization is the term that has been used to describe a subconscious process by which a patient translates emotional distress into bodily complaints. However, the heterogeneous classification of somatoform disorders according to the DSM-IV and the ICD-10 has been found to be insufficiently useful for therapeutic and scientific purposes. Thus, the DSM-5 changed the term “somatoform disorders” to “somatic symptom and related disorders.” The DSM-5 has broadened the scope of somatoform disorders and emphasizes the concept rather than simply counting symptoms. The DSM-5 also emphasizes a positive criterion, namely, maladaptive reaction to a somatic symptom, instead of the earlier negative criterion. However, the somatic symptom disorder risks mislabeling many people as mentally ill. The term ‘somatic symptom disorder’ may be misused as opposed to mental symptom disorder. Therefore, these issues on the concept and definitions need more clarification through further studies in the future. In addition, the rationale for psychological intervention in disorders with somatic symptoms was described.


Concept Disorders with somatic symptoms Psychosomatic medicine Somatization Psychological factors affecting other medical conditions (PFAOMC) Somatoform disorders DSM-5 Somatic symptom and related disorders Positive criterion Rationale for psychological intervention 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kyung Bong Koh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryYonsei University College of MedicineSeoulKorea

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