The Concept of Somatisation : A Cross-cultural perspective

Zakiya Q Al Busaidi


Somatisation is generally defined as the tendency to experience psychological distress in the form of somatic symptoms and to seek medical help for these symptoms, which may be initiated and/or perpetuated by emotional responses such as anxiety and depression. Somatisation has been recognised as a commonly encountered problem, especially in primary health care, contributing to frequent use of medical services and to frustration in both the patient and the doctor. In recent years, there has been a great deal of dissatisfaction with the terminology and classification of somatisation, and the way this definition is applied to non-Western cultures. This dilemma pertains to different aspects of the definitions, mainly their usefulness, adequacy and applicability. This article aims to review the literature on the development of the concept of somatisation and how this definition is applied from a cross-cultural aspect.


Somatization disorders; Cross-cultural comparison; Oman; Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; International Classification of Diseases.

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Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

ISSN (Print edition): 2075-051X ISSN (Internet edition): 2075-0528

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