oa Journal of Psychology in Africa - Somatic complaints of Nigerians



Somatic complaints have been observed to be widespread not only in Africa but also Asia. Somatization was viewed to be a kind of cultural way of communicating idioms of distress. Efforts at decoding the message coded in somatic complaints led to the development of the Enugu Somatization Scale, a maze of somatic complaints, the collection, interpretation and understanding of which gives one a clue to the social and psychological problems underlying the complaints. Hoch (1967) drawing-from her experience in Asia exposes the meaning of somatization at the various levels, namely the generalized transparent hypochondriac complaint level of the less sophisticated mind, the gross hysteric manifestation level at which the problem is projected to an outside force, and the level at which somatization is used to cover up the problem and exonerate the sufferer from blame. The somatic complaints are examined and interpreted culturally and their meanings given. Treatment comprises discovery of the problem and helping the client to solve it. Two cases are given as illustration.


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