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April 1985

Genital HerpesA Pervasive Psychosocial Disorder

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Psychology, Harper Hospital (Dr Luby) and Lafayette Clinic (Dr Klinge), Detroit, and the American Social Health Association, Palo Alto, Calif.

Arch Dermatol. 1985;121(4):494-497. doi:10.1001/archderm.1985.01660040078015

• The reports of patients with genital herpes suggest that it is not an awesome physical disability; the more distressing consequences appear to be psychosocial. The symbolic meaning of the disease and its effects on self-esteem and body image have the greatest destructive impact. Patients move through a sequence of adaptational responses remarkably similar to those described for cancer. Of greatest importance is their growing sense of social isolation and their reluctance to initiate relationships with members of the opposite sex.

(Arch Dermatol 1985;121:494-497)