Somatoform Disorders

By: Lauren Wake

A somatoform disorder is a condition in which there is no apparent physical cause. This can also be known as hysteria, which refers to unexplainable fainting, paralysis, or deafness. Conversion Disorders and Hypochondriasis are two major types of somatoform disorders.

Conversion Disorders

A conversion disorder is changing emotional difficulties into a loss of a special voluntary body function. There is no physical damage present in this disorder. If a real and prolonged handicap had a conversion disorder, that person could not feel anything in his left hand, move his legs, or exercise some other normal physical function. Most psychologists believe that people suffering from conversion disorders unconsciously invent physical symptoms to gain freedom from unbearable conflict. This disorder is rare.


Hypochondriasis is where a person who is in good health becomes preoccupied with imaginary ailments. This person will spend a lot of time looking for signs of serious illness and often misinterprets minor aches, pains, bruises, or bumps as early signs of a fatal illness. A hypochondriac usually continues to believe that a disease exists. This can occur in a young adulthood and is evenly common in both men and women.