Somatic vs Psychosomatic Illness

Posted on July 25th, 2013

One of the common questions that I get from people with health problems is how to know the difference if the health problem is somatic (organic) or psychosomatic? To help you get started on find the answer, ask yourself these to questions 1

  • What would you be doing if you didn’t have these symptoms or problem?

  • How would your life be different if you didn’t have these issues, concerns, or problems?

When the answer is that life would not be different, except that the symptom or problem would be gone, then the cause of the problem is probably physiological.

When the problem or symptom’s purpose is to let the you avoid an important problem in your life or an important area of your life, the answer will indicate that from which you are probably running away from.

In some situations, your illness can be a psychological mask or a form of adaption to your problem.


  1. Bitter, J. R., & Nicoll, W. G. (2000). Adlerian brief therapy with individuals: Process and practice. Journal of Individual Psychology, 56, 31-44. 

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