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Somatoform and Factitious Disorders

Edited by Katharine A. Phillips, M.D.

  • ISBN 978-1-58562-802-5
  • Item #62802

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Beset by contradictions, somatoform and factitious disorders have an unusually long, rich, and colorful historical and clinical tradition. Yet, some of them have received only limited empirical investigation.

This book continues that rich tradition by offering a broad and scholarly synthesis of the current knowledge—and controversies—about somatoform and factitious disorders. Here you'll find up-to-date, clinically focused overviews of these intriguing and often difficult-to-treat disorders.

Recognized experts present the latest findings along with insightful recommendations and illustrative case studies on

  • Somatization disorder—The evolution and problems of diagnostic criteria (e.g., its focus on symptom counting), epidemiology, clinical features, etiologic considerations, differential diagnosis (e.g., contrasted with depressive and anxiety disorders), evaluation (use of questionnaires), and treatment considerations (psychotherapy, psychotropic medications).
  • Hypochondriasis—History, clinical features, theoretical models (psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, and physiologic), research studies, and practical techniques for treatment (from pharmacotherapy to cognitive behavioral therapy to alternative treatments such as relaxation therapy).
  • Body dysmorphic disorder—History and prevalence, clinical features, treatment (including surgery and nonpsychiatric medical treatment), etiology and pathophysiology (its relationship to obsessive-compulsive, depressive, and eating disorders), and diagnosis and misdiagnosis.
  • Conversion disorder—Diagnostic criteria and clinical subtypes, history and definitions, models of symptom generation, functions served by conversion symptoms, associated features, epidemiology, demographic and disease course, comorbidity, differential diagnosis, and treatment (best done in collaboration with an internist, primary care physician, or neurologist).
  • Factitious disorders (widely known as Munchausen syndrome, its most extreme subtype)—Empirical evidence related to epidemiology and etiology; diagnosis, clinical description, prevalence, and associated costs; limitations of current approaches; the reliability and usefulness of differential diagnoses; comorbidity, etiology, and management.

Both concise and thorough, this extensively annotated volume clarifies the issues surrounding these fascinating disorders and offers practical guidance and recommendations, highlighting the pressing need for further research to improve patient care. As such, it will prove compelling reading for practicing psychiatrists and other physicians in any clinical setting who want to better understand the baffling complexities of these distressing disorders.


  • Contributors
  • Introduction to the Review of Psychiatry Series
  • Foreword
  • Chapter 1. Somatization Disorder
  • Chapter 2. Hypochondriasis
  • Chapter 3. Body Dysmorphic Disorder
  • Chapter 4. Conversion Disorder
  • Chapter 5. Factitious Disorder
  • Afterword
  • Index

About the Authors

Katherine A. Phillips, M.D., is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University School of Medicine in Providence, Rhode Island. She is also Associate Medical Director of Ambulatory Care and Director of Body Dysmorphic Disorder at Butler Hospital in Providence.

This is a valuable addition to the existing literature. . . . The chapters are clearly written, with several case illustrations, and provide a helpful update of the literature.—Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 7/1/2002

This book makes for interesting and useful reading. In this age of psychopharmacology, second-messenger systems, and gene expression, it is refreshing to be reminded that there still exists in psychiatry several disorders that cannot be adequately explained by receptor dysregulation, nor easily treated with a simple prescription. Because these disorders are still commonly seen, it would behoove practicing psychiatrists to review them thoroughly; this book serves that function well.—Doody Publishing, 7/1/2002

The chapters present a nice balance between theory and practical management. Despite the relative brevity of the book, I found the reviews comprehensive enough for the book to be used as a reference text. I would recommend this as a textbook to primary care residents as part of their training. They must contend with somatoform disorders on a daily basis. I would also highly recommend the book to any mental health professional who consults regularly with medical colleagues. When I am consulted for the impossible task of having to 'rule out conversion disorder,' it will be good to know that this text is on my bookshelf.—Robert J. Gregory, M.D., Psychosomatics, 7/1/2002

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