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Psychosomatic illnesses or symptoms refer to physical conditions which are psychologically induced. If a person's mind believes strongly enough that they are unwell, their body may create physical symptoms in response. Note that this does not imply that the person is faking the illness.

It is often difficult for doctors to determine which conditions are psychosomatic and which are genuine. Often, psychosomatic illness is proposed as a hypothesis when there is no identifiable cause for a patient's condition.

Some theories about the human body's psychosomatic abilities assert that in extreme cases, the body can even produce the appearance of wounds. This is proposed as one possible explanation for the phenomenon of stigmata.

Psychosomatic effects can be positive as well as negative, as demonstrated in the placebo effect. Placebos can be used successfully to treat psychosomatic conditions, as well as other minor or temporary illnesses.

According to Wikipedia, a psychosomatic ailment is more correctly called a somatoform disorderWikipedia unless it's related to high blood pressure, stress, etc..

Multiple chemical sensitivity[edit]

Some people are especially sensitive to our treated water, polluted air, synthetic clothing, cleaning products, paints, perfumes, and other items that many of us are likely to come in contact with in our day to day activities. The only way to identify those who are especially sensitive to things in our modern environment is by their complaints and behaviors. There is apparently no organic basic for their sensitivity, which makes it impossible to develop something like a blood or allergy test to identify who is especially sensitive.
—The Skeptic's Dictionary[1]

Widespread chemophobia, coupled with the fact that some volatile compounds smell nauseatingly bad, has led a number of folks to believe that they have severe, allergy-like physical reactions to a wide variety of chemicals. When tested, many of these patients have no symptoms at all if their nose is plugged up and they're not aware that they're being exposed to one of the chemicals they're "sensitive" to.[2]

Duckhead.gif Quackwatch says: [3]
“Multiple chemical sensitivity” is not a legitimate diagnosis. Instead of testing their claims with well-designed research, its advocates are promoting them through publications, talk shows, support groups, lawsuits, and political maneuvering (such as getting state governors to designate a Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Awareness Week). Many are also part of a network of questionable legal actions alleging injuries by environmental chemicals.


Pyschosomatic illness is one topic of discussion for French philosopher Jean Baudrillard in his book Simulacra and Simulation.[4] The book quotes Émile Littré speaking on psychosomatic illness and simulation: "Someone who feigns an illness can simply go to bed and make believe he is ill. Some[one] who simulates an illness produces in himself some of the symptoms."[5] To Baudrillard, such illness is a form of simulation which denies treatment by medicine.

See also[edit]


  1. Multiple chemical sensitivity. The Skeptic's Dictionary, 21 October 2015.
  2. Das-Munshi et al., Multiple chemical sensitivities: A systematic review of provocation studies, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, vol. 118 no. 6 (Dec 2006), pp. 1257-1264
  3. Stephen Barrett, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A Spurious Diagnosis. Quackwatch, 23 November 2016.
  4. Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard (2020). The University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0472065211.