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Somatic fixation: the harm of healing


  • Biderman, Aya
  • Yeheskel, Ayala
  • Herman, Joseph


The term somatic fixation describes a model in which the patient's problems are medicalized both by the patient and by the physician. This phenomenon was described by a group of researchers from the Netherlands, in 1983. This paper discusses somatic fixation and its implications. Somatic fixation should be distinguished from "somatization" or "somatoform disorder", which are psychiatric diagnoses, although there is probably a large degree of overlap. Predisposing factors to somatic fixation include social, cultural and medical circumstances, both related to the patient and to the physician. The medical care system may predispose to somatic fixation by offering prepaid medical care, and by incorporating the "rule out" model in fear of medical law-suits. Preventing somatic fixation is a major aim for every physician; being more aware of its possible occurrence may help, as well as exploring the patient's history and psychosocial background.

Suggested Citation

  • Biderman, Aya & Yeheskel, Ayala & Herman, Joseph, 2003. "Somatic fixation: the harm of healing," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 1135-1138, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:5:p:1135-1138

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