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Pain Research and Management
Volume 13 (2008), Issue 1, Pages 13-18
Original Article

DSM-IV-TR “Pain Disorder Associated with Psychological Factors” as a Nonhysterical Form of Somatization

Massimiliano Aragona,1 Lorenzo Tarsitani,2 Serena De Nitto,2 and Maurizio Inghilleri3

1Faculty of Philosophy, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Italy
2Department of Psychiatric Sciences and Psychological Medicine, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Italy
3Department of Neurological Sciences, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Italy

Copyright © 2008 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Elevated Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) scores on the hysteria (Hy) scale are reported in several forms of pain. Previous results were possibly biased by diagnostic heterogeneity (psychogenic, somatic and mixed pain syndromes included in the same index sample) or Hy heterogeneity (failure to differentiate Hy scores into clinically meaningful sub-scales, such as admission of symptoms [Ad] and denial of symptoms [Dn]).

METHODS: To overcome this drawback, 48 patients diagnosed as having a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edn, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) diagnosis of “pain disorder associated with psychological factors” were compared with 48 patients experiencing somatic pain excluding psychological factors, and 42 somatic controls without pain.

RESULTS: MMPI Hy and hypochondriasis (Hs) scores were significantly higher in the pain disorder group than in control groups, who scored similarly. MMPI correction (K) scores and Dn scores were similar in the three groups, whereas Ad was significantly higher in the pain disorder group and lower and similar in the two control groups, respectively. In the pain disorder group, Ad and Dn were negatively correlated, whereas in control groups they were unrelated.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that whereas a pattern of high Hs and Hy scores together with a normal K score might characterize patients with a pain disorder associated with psychological factors, elevated Hy scores per se do not indicate hysterical traits. In the pain disorder group, elevated Hy scores reflected the Ad subscale alone, indicating a strikingly high frequency of distressing somatic symptoms. They tend not to repress or deny the emotional malaise linked to symptoms, as the hysterical construct expects. The pain disorder designation should be considered a nonhysterical form of somatization.