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Psychosomatics. 1994 Nov-Dec;35(6):546-56.

Severity of somatization and its relationship to psychiatric disorders and personality.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, School of Medicine, Seattle 98195.


Medical patients' (75 with chronic fatigue complaints, 61 with dizziness, and 88 with disabling tinnitus; N = 224) current and past psychiatric diagnoses and personality characteristics were assessed to determine if they could independently explain the number of medically unexplained physical symptoms that the patients had experienced. Cloninger's Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire (TPQ) and the Diagnostic Interview Schedule based on DSM-III-R were used to assess the personality and psychiatric diagnoses, respectively. The results revealed that the number of lifetime medically unexplained symptoms were significantly, independently, and positively related to increasing numbers of current and past anxiety and depressive disorders and to the harm avoidance dimension of the TPQ. In a second analysis, the "worry/pessimism" and "impulsiveness" subscales were positively related to the number of medically unexplained symptoms. The results suggest that somatization is associated with current and past history of psychiatric illnesses and harm avoidance in this sample of medical patients.

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