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February 1969

Psychophysiological Correlates of La Belle Indifférence

Author Affiliations

Madison, Wis
From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, Wis, and the Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1969;20(2):239-245. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1969.01740140111014

OF the many unusual and puzzling clinical phenomena seen in the field of psychiatry, one of the most striking is that of la belle indifférence. In the face of what would appear to be disabling and frightening physical impairment, the patient remains calm and apparently emotionally uninvolved with his symptoms. Although la belle indifference is historically one of the first psychiatric phenomena to be elaborated clinically and despite speculation over the years as to its cause and meaning, little empirical investigation has been conducted.1 Most of the writings that deal with this phenomenon appear more concerned with its usefulness or inapplicability as a defining criterion for the diagnosis of hysteria than with understanding the phenomenon itself.2-5 An important exception is Laughlin6 who is perhaps the only author in present time to elaborate on the nature of la belle indifférence and to suggest

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