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May 1969

Physiologist's Response to "On a View of Undiagnosed Distress"

Author Affiliations

Department of Physiology University of Rochester Rochester, NY

Arch Intern Med. 1969;123(5):594-595. doi:10.1001/archinte.1969.00300150112015

The idea that certain unaccountable symptoms may be explained by the hypothesis that the "patient's detecting devices and mechanisms are more sensitive than those of the medical profession" is challenging.1 However, in its present form, this new statement of the old problem of dealing with "crocks" cannot be tested experimentally. If the results of experiments were positive, the hypothesis would be invalid. Negative results would support the idea, but one would never know if his experimental tools were adequate.

A slightly different, but more workable formulation of the problem, would be a positive statement of the same concept. Perhaps there are many patients who are more responsive or less tolerant to certain specific physiological stresses. Within a population there must be a range of response to a given stimulus. At each end of the normal distribution scale, there is an area which might include some of those patients who