Psychology Study Material: Major Categories of Disorders in DSM-IV-TR: Somatoform Disorders

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Major Categories of Disorders in DSM-IV-TR

Somatoform Disorders

A disorder in which psychological problems take the physical (somatic) form without any apparent physical cause; a state where there are physical symptoms present but no medical cause.

Somatoform Disorders

Symptoms include

  • Blurred vision,
  • Dizziness,
  • Vomiting,
  • Difficulty in swallowing etc

There are two types of somatoform disorders.

  • Hypochondriasis
  • Conversion disorders


Type of somatoform disorder in which the person experiences a persistent fear of illness and is preoccupied by health concerns even minor pains and aches may be interpreted as a symptom of some serious disease.

Symptoms involve

  • In this disorder doctor shopping is very frequent.
  • Sympathy may exaggerate these complaints.
  • Patient undergoes surgery and regularly takes medication.
  • Patient focuses closely on normal physiological states such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, palpitations etc; patient interprets it as some severe disease.
  • Minor health problems may become severe as a result of persistent stress and discomfort

Conversion Disorders

  • Disorder in which the person undergoes an actual, genuine and specific, physical problem and disturbance, the problem has a purely psychological reason and there is no biological cause involved. The problem manifests itself suddenly, without any prior indication.
  • Unexplainable neurological symptoms appear at once when no testable cause is present.

Symptoms include

  • Partial blindness.
  • Loss of voluntary control over motor and sensory functions.
  • Inability to hear and talk.
  • Sudden display of emotions: and at times there is no emotion.
  • Symptoms may be exaggerated by stress.
  • The sufferers frequently do not show a natural concern about the symptoms.

Causes include

  • Hereditary component and observational learning.
  • A state of severe stress
  • People who have other organic problems may develop conversion disorder
  • A prior knowledge of the disease and symptoms is there.