Behavior: Turning Illness into a Way of Life

A new study says somatizers and doctors have a lot in common

In public, doctors call them hypochondriacs, malingerers and hysterics. In private, physicians have been known to describe some of them as turkeys, hospital hobos and GOMERs (an acronym for Get Out of My Emergency Room). By whatever name, they are doctors' least-loved patients, individuals who use imaginary or self-inflicted physical illnesses to gain attention and manipulate others. The hostility displayed by physicians to these patients, known clinically as somatizers, is usually attributed to irritation and frustration. Now Psychiatrist Charles Ford of...

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