Somatization disorder is a type of mental disorder, also known as Briquet’s syndrome, in which individuals claim recurring significant instances of pain, distress, amnesia, or sexual difficulty. Formerly known as hysteria, it is a somatoform disorder, a form of mental illness in which the individual claims physical injury despite any medical evidence to the contrary.
Individuals with somatization disorder display heightened states of anxiety, often combined with perceived physical symptoms, and frequently seek out medical treatment for conditions that do not exist. The DSM states that diagnosis occurs following a history of somatic complaints, which generally begins before the age of 30. The individual does not feign such symptoms, but there existence cannot be explained through a genuine medical condition or the symptoms of a genuine medical condition are magnified by the individual.
Persons with somatization disorder can have numerous different symptoms, including joint pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, chest pain and palpitations, vague food allergies and chronic fatigue. Some patients report pain in their sexual organs or even amnesia. Theories range on the origin of somatization disorder, with explanations ranging from extreme reactions to stress, heightened physical sensitivity, or cognitive distortions.