Somatization: what is it and what symptoms does it produce?

Historically, many psychological theories treat the body and the mind as if they were two different entities which are only associated in certain respects to allow the existence of human beings aware of themselves and fully. functional. Interestingly, from these approaches, the “material” body of people has power over the mind only in the aspect that holds it in a particular place and, on the other hand, it is the mind. which proposes objectives, controls the movements of the body and for the means to transcend its “prison of flesh”.

Today, psychology and of course psychiatry tend more and more to avoid the existence of a “spirit” independent of the material body, but curiously, and despite the scientific and technical progress of the last decades, there are certain mental disorders which seem to claim the existence of an incorporeal psychological aspect, Even though we know it is impossible. An example of this is provided by a phenomenon called somatization.

Understanding the concept of somatization

the somatization is a set of physical symptoms that cause discomfort and cannot be medically explained by a body exam. That is, where there is somatization, there are issues related to pain and discomfort for which a cause cannot be found from a medical examination.

Due to the difficulty in finding the source of the problem, attention to diagnosis and treatment usually falls on Somatic nervous systemThat is, the part of the nervous system that carries sensory information and serves as a channel for electrical impulses that activate muscles.

What is the cause of somatizations?

Somatizations often form a sort of “tailor-made drawer” of diagnostic criteria, as they are often used to create categories that include certain problems that it is not clear why they are produced. This should not come as a surprise, since the range of symptoms under which a disorder which meets the definition of “somatization” can appear is very wide, and the localization of the origin of a disease in the functioning of the nervous system always results in more. . localize in very specific parts of the body, such as certain areas of cell tissue or organs.

In addition, textbooks with criteria for diagnosing cases of somatization almost always include the condition that these symptoms cannot be satisfactorily explained by another disorder or disease.

Somatizations are therefore difficult to explain if one wishes to isolate in the laboratory the cause of all the physical and psychological complications that it generatesBut it has been a long time since they started to study and document. It is therefore normal that for a certain time they were associated with what in psychoanalysis was called hysteria, and that even today it is believed in certain academic circles that somatizations are the consequence of certain psychological problems that are painful. to come out of the Unconscious.

Which people usually develop them?

By statistics, women are slightly more likely to somatize than men, And this usually happens for the first time during youth, before the age of 30. Additionally, correlations have been found between living a life tied to severe stressors, which is why the poorest and least educated population is particularly susceptible to experiencing cases of somatization.

These latter data can be used to suggest that somatizations have a situational component, and that therefore, in order to study them, it is necessary to understand not only the individual, but also his relation to the environment.

How do they usually express themselves?

The most common somatizations are related to sexual problems (Like pain during penetration or erectile dysfunction), ongoing headaches and joint pain. However, as we have already seen, there are many symptoms that can fit into what we call somatization.

And how do you treat a case of somatization?

Everything related to the nervous system should be treated from an approach that covers both the psychological and behavioral aspects of the person and the physical phenomena directly addressed in the patient’s body. This is why it is worthwhile to medically monitor the progress of somatization at the same time as cognitive behavioral therapy is provided.

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