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October 1969

Psychosomatic Specificity: Experimental Study and Results.

Author Affiliations

Madison, Wis


Edited by F. Alexander, MD; Thomas M. French, MD; and George H. Pollock, MD. Price, $7.50. Pp 140, with 6 figures and 34 tables. University of Chicago Press, 5750 Ellis Ave, Chicago 60637, 1968.

Arch Intern Med. 1969;124(4):518. doi:10.1001/archinte.1969.00300200130037

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


This account of a study, which was begun 15 years ago and involved at least 25 investigators, is an important contribution; it does much to strengthen belief in specificity in psychosomatic disease. "Specificity" in this context means, broadly, that there are predictable relationships between physical diseases and psychological characteristics. The work was stimulated by specificity hypotheses developed at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, notably by French and Alexander. These hypotheses have beeen very influential, but previously had not been tested carefully.

Interviews with 83 patients form the basis of the report. Each had one of the following diseases: asthma, neurodermatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, essential hypertension, ulcerative colitis, duodenal ulcer or thyrotoxicosis. Each disease was represented by at least five patients of each sex. Interviews were tape-recorded, edited to remove conventional medical clues, and judged by a panel of from five to nine psychoanalysts. Using personality characteristics to make medical diagnoses,

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