May 1973

Symptom Configuration and Life Events

Author Affiliations

Chicago; New Haven, Conn
From The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine (Dr. Uhlenhuth) and the Department of Psychiatry, St. George's Hospital, London (Dr. Paykel).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;28(5):744-748. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.01750350112021

Symptom configuration derived from symptom self-reports in a sample of mainly neurotic patients was not related to the amount of recent life stress, although overall symptom intensity was. Neither was symptom configuration related to the qualitative character of preceding stressful events.

Symptom configuration did depend upon certain intrinsic characteristics of the patient. Older patients tended toward more depression and younger patients toward more anxiety. Lower-class patients manifested more anxiety, whereas upper-class patients manifested more irascibility and compulsiveness. Women manifested more depression; men manifested more irascibility and compulsiveness. Blacks manifested more somatization and whites manifested more anxiety. It would be interesting if a further statistical study could provide evidence that symptom configuration depends upon interaction between the qualitative character of stressful events and intrinsic characteristics of the individual.