I just read this article in the New York Times which is just soooo not what someone who has been sick on and off for years wants to read. It is an article about somatization syndrome. I’ve never heard of it before now, but it seems to be a situation where someone has aches, pains, fatigue, dizziness, or other various symptoms for which doctors cannot find a medical explanation. So you know what? Then it becomes a psychiatric disorder. I googled this and there apparently are actually people who really do have this. That is, physical problems are caused very directly by psychiatric issues and the people need psychotherapy. All well and good. But for those of us who do not have a psychiatric disorder and something actually is causing our fatigue, stomach aches, head aches, decreased immune system functioning, or whatever symptoms there are, this gives doctors such an easy way to say it is all in the head and just get some therapy. Can’t figure it out? Just chalk it up to somatization syndrome.
This reminds me of my most recent doctor who suggested I meditate as a response to my health concerns. Maybe she secretly thought I had this. Ugg. Luckily, the first site that comes up when you google this is a site that helps reassure those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromalgia (two very difficult to diagnose disorders that often interfere quite a bit with one’s every day life) that a doctor who is familiar with the various disorders will know how to differentiate between them. Of course, the problem is that many many doctors don’t know how to recognize or treat either CFS or Fibromalgia, along with 100s of other rare or complex problems that people live with for years because they are not correctly identified. Sigh. Sigh sigh.
While I’m certainly glad that people with somatization syndrome are able to be well-diagnosed and get treatment, I just hate to think about all the people who actually do have a non-psychiatric medical issue that are put in the “somatization syndrome” box. It is just so frustrating and sad that so many people suffer for years with medical issues that doctors cannot adequately recognize or treat because medical training and practice is so scientistic and regimented – so unholistic and so inattentive to the complexity of medical problems that don’t fit into any of the pre-established boxes.