Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters New somatic symptom disorder in DSM-5

Helping to find the most accurate diagnosis

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 16 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2228
  1. Joel E Dimsdale, professor of psychiatry emeritus1,
  2. Michael Sharpe, professor of psychiatry2,
  3. Francis Creed, professor of psychiatry3
  1. 1University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA 92093, USA
  2. 2University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  3. 3University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  1. jdimsdale{at}

Twenty years ago Frances chaired the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) taskforce, which emphasised “medically unexplained symptoms” as the key feature of somatoform disorders.1 Where did that get us?

Patients feel that their problems are viewed as inauthentic, and doctors can’t agree about what is or is not medically unexplained. All of this reinforces …

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