Assessment and Management of Somatoform and Conversion Symptoms
Somatoform and conversion symptoms are common elements of inpatient and outpatient medical practice. Somatization has been called “one of medicine’s blind spots,”1 where the assumptions of Cartesian dualism can discourage the gathering of useful ideographic information and negatively impact efforts at successful treatment. From our perspective, the presence of somatoform and conversion factors demonstrates the need for continuous refinement of individualized assessment and treatment practices tailored to fit the constraints of clinical, operational, and financial parameters inherent in clinical settings. The pragmatic value of variety in clinical presentations is that it remind us that the focus of medical treatment is fundamentally to alleviate disease and suffering in the patient. To meet this responsibility, we are continually confronted with two dilemmas. First, the more we learn about the human being, the more we are confronted by the futility of Cartesian dualism in assuming that physical and mental factors are independent rather than interdependent. Second, the heterogeneity of human experience and response to illness reminds us that the science of medicine (or any other applied discipline for that matter) may be precise but successful application is often an art based on the accommodation of information and experience.
KeywordsTimolol Maleate Internal Medicine Clinic Somatization Disorder Moderate Deficit Cartesian Dualism
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