The term somatization is attributed to Wilhelm Stekel, who, in the early 20th century, defined it as a bodily disorder that is the expression of a psychic conflict. The psychosocial origins of somatic distress have been difficult to verify; therefore, contemporary theories view somatization as the tendency to experience and communicate psychological distress in the form of physical symptoms and to seek medical help for those physical symptoms.

Manifestations of Somatization

A patient presenting with somatization may complain of symptoms—often multiple symptoms—in any body part or organ system. Chest pain, abdominal pain, headache, and backache are by far the most common presenting complaints, along with fatigue. These physical symptoms may or may not involve detectable physiological dysfunction. Some are entirely subjective and may be viewed as culture-specific ...

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