Examples of Somatoform Disorders

These are examples of real medical illnesses in which the brain is the only organ that is functioning abnormally. Some would say, “It’s all in your head.” I prefer to say, “If it is determined that your brain is the primary source of an illness or condition, then this directs the treatment approach.”

As a psychiatrist, I was trained to rule-out somatic causes of any illness with an appropriate work-up including history, exam, and labs. If no known condition is found, then I would say, “This patient suffers from a functional illness.” My recommendation would be psychiatric or behavioral therapy.

A good psychologist who works closely with a primary care physician or psychiatrist can treat functional or psycho-somatic or somatoform conditions with psychotherapy. Psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic attacks are often associated with a lot of psycho-somatic symptoms that a good psychologist can treat in concert with a medical doctor.


many patients who have a somatoform condition would do better if they received their care from a complementary professional.

My reason for creating placebomedicine.com is to promote the idea that complementary approaches can work without deception in fully informed patients who have somatoform disorders. Complementary and alternative medicine have indeed spent “thousands of years,” as they say, learning how to do non-pharmacological interventions for patients who have somatoform disorders. It is not just some mumbo jumbo about “eat right and reduce your stress” like you might get in two minutes from a family physician. There is a real science to doing complementary medicine that has evolved or been honed over many centuries. It is just that the “science” is not in the needles or in the chemistry of the herb. The “science” is in the behavioral interaction and environment of the treatment. The science is in how the suggestion is given and received. These complementary folks really do know how to do it even if their explanation for how or why it works is a post hoc rationalization.

After years of suffering and going to many doctors, Glenn Beck was so sick he was going to lose everything. He went to a complementary medicine doctor where he got a made up diagnosis and full alternative treatment plan. He got better and is now telling the world about it.

If Glen does not really understand what happened he may obtain medical care in the future that does not work out so well for him. This is why it is so important to bring the two sides together so that complementary medicine can truly complement evidence-based medicine.

Glenn Beck saying, “I have adrenal fatigue.”

1. Glenn Beck says he has “adrenal fatigue.”

2. The twelve teenage girls of Le Roy, N.Y.

3. Top 10 Famous Hypochondriacs of the World

4. Famous People with Somatoform Disorder (This is a great explanation about what somatoform disorder is.)

Here is an ABC News piece on the Carrick Brain Center which has since changed its name to Cerebrum Brain Center. Neurologists really do send patients here and there is a long wait list. I would send patients that I diagnosed as having a “functional” condition and that would include Glenn Beck. I think mainstream medicine should figure out how this works.

Chiropractic Neurology: Miracle Method or Placebo?   ABC NEWS Nightline  (Aug. 18, 2012)

Somatoform disorders

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