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What is somatization?

Somatization is essentially the conversion of unconscious emotional difficulties and conflicts into bodily / physical (somatic) symptoms and complaints; another way to think of it is physical symptoms that are unexplained by medical examination.

Examples of conditions that can be related to somatization or emotional difficulties include:

  • Headaches & Migraines
  • IBS
  • GERD
  • Nausea
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Pain
  • Hypertension
  • Neurologic Complaints  (e.g., weakness or tingling in limbs) 
  • Immune system difficulties (e.g., allergies)
  • Erectile Difficulty 


ISTDP has been shown to effectively treat somatization. Internalizing anger (and other feelings) can lead to or exacerbate somatic difficulties. Working on experiencing, in a conscious manner, these avoided feelings can lead to relief of the somatic complaints. Please see About ISTDP for more information.

*** Of note, it is important to have a thorough medical examination to rule out any physical causes for symptoms.

If there are physical causes present, along with proper medical treatment, psychotherapy can be a useful complementary treatment as part of your overall health care and well-being.

For an article in the Journal of Family Practice about Somatization and ISTDP please visit:

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