University of British Columbia

"Understanding and Managing Somatoform Disorders" - PDF version now available free of charge


Somatoform Disorders occur when emotional distress is unconsciously and involuntarily expressed in the form of symptoms and signs of physical illness. The clinical features cannot be explained by general medical causes and no underlying physical pathology exists.

One in every five individuals seeking medical care anywhere in the world is doing so because they have a Somatoform Disorder, yet these conditions most often remain unidentified and misunderstood. As a result they go untreated and a large burden of suffering is unaddressed. Many individuals disabled by common chronic conditions such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and other well-known syndromes, are suffering Somatoform Disorders under different names.

Once Somatoform Disorders are understood for what they are, treatment can be effectively directed. Often longstanding and seemingly untreatable, these conditions do improve with straightforward therapeutic approaches, the components of which are already available in most communities.

"Understanding and Managing Somatoform Disorders" by Anton Scamvougeras and Andrew Howard, Neuropsychiatrists at the UBC Neuropsychiatry Unit, was published in 2018 (AJKS Medical, Vancouver, Canada). This text offers an understanding of these complex syndromes and a thorough approach to their assessment and treatment. Clinical vignettes and specific suggestions give the reader the experience of accompanying the team as it works to understand and help these patients. Emphasis is placed on customizing the treatment to suit not just the needs of the patient, but also the strengths and skills of the treating clinician. The authors encourage other clinicians to join them in this essential, challenging, and professionally gratifying work.

For more information, see book review by François Mai published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 2018.


The UBC Neuropsychiatry Unit is now pleased to offer free access to the PDF version of this book. Click on the link below to download a PDF version. Hard copies of the book are available through Amazon and the UBC Bookstore, Vancouver, Canada.

Please feel free to distribute the pdf as widely as you see fit. The authors welcome comments and discussion to and

Download Understanding and Managing Somatoform Disorders PDF.

Donations accepted and will be applied to BC Neuropsychiatry Program education and initiatives:



September 30, 2019


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