Are patients with somatization disorder highly suggestible?


Dr Richard J. Brown, Division of Clinical Psychology, University of Manchester, 2nd Floor Zochonis Building, Brunswick Street, Manchester M13 9PL, UK.


Objective:  High suggestibility is widely regarded as an important feature of patients with medically unexplained symptoms (MUS), particularly those with multiple MUS [i.e. somatization disorder (SD)], although there are few empirical data attesting to this assumption. A study was therefore conducted to compare levels of non-hypnotic suggestibility in patients with SD and medical controls.

Method:  A modified version of the Barber Suggestibility Scale was administered to 19 patients with SD and 17 controls with an established organic dystonia.

Results:  Patients with SD were no more suggestible than control patients. Dystonia controls were more likely to deliberately comply with suggestions than the SD patients.

Conclusion:  Contrary to popular belief, high suggestibility is not necessarily a feature of SD.