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Continuum of diagnostic categories or the question of the transitions between physical and mental illnesses

Somatic means: “that which relates to the body; physically". The term is derived from the Greek σῶμα , soma (plural: somata ) to denote the body or the body . Somatogenic , on the other hand, means “that which is derived from the body”, comes from it or arises from it - according to the literal meaning of the Greek-derived syllables - genes - and is therefore mostly physically conditioned . Somatogenesis is therefore the opposite of psychogenesis .

The term "somatic" is mainly used in medical terminology to differentiate physical or organic from mental illnesses and so-called functional complaints . Of somatoform disorders is mentioned, if medically insufficient organic causes of the sued by the patient physical discomfort or symptoms are found and are called. General symptoms in the foreground.

Since mostly physical and psychological factors interact, one speaks of a " somatism " when certain disease teachings mainly or exclusively consider physical aspects, see also the point of view of the somatics .

In neurology , the term "soma" describes the skeletal and muscular structures of the body, which are mostly innervated at will. In contrast to this is the term “ viscera ”, which denotes the intestines that are not innervated at will. The nervous system as such can also become somatically (neurologically) ill as an organ.

In psychiatry , somatotherapy describes all physical treatment methods in contrast to psychotherapy . Overall, these somatic methods have a poor professional reputation.

In Western medicine, the term psychosomatic is less used to characterize symptoms in which interactions between mental and physical processes are assumed, but rather to characterize symptoms in which the influence of mental processes on the development and course of physical diseases is examined. A psychosomatic consideration of mental illnesses - insofar as they do not already fall into the area of organ medicine (e.g. mental illnesses caused by internal illnesses) - has so far been of rather theoretical importance (e.g. the questions: Are there frequent somatic illnesses such as gastric ulcers? Severe mental illness? - Are mental illnesses just the somatic side of diseases of the brain?) → Endogenous psychosis .

The traditional Chinese medicine considers and treats diseases somatopsychisch and assigns emotional states energy configurations in the body.

The physiotherapy aims to achieve a health and sometimes particular psychological influence and improvement on somatopsychischem way. The Naturopathy is similar here to understand. Psychiatric drugs also have a somatic effect.

Some representatives of complementary or alternative medicine use the term soma more broadly . You then understand it to be the living, from within, perception of yourself and differentiate it from the physiological system “body” with its objectively measurable properties. They assume that this self-perception or self-perception is fundamentally different from the external view of what we call a body.

In biology , the terms soma , somatic tissue and somatic cells are used to distinguish tissue or cells from germ cells . According to the definition, all cells that are not germ cells are somatic cells .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: somatic  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. Finzen, Asmus : Why are our sick people actually getting well again? Mabuse-Verlag, Frankfurt 2012, ISBN 978-3-86321-023-6 ; on “Somatotherapy”: page 74 ff.
  2. ^ Uexküll, Thure from : Basic questions of psychosomatic medicine. Rowohlt Taschenbuch, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1963, Part I. Chap. 1. A definition page 13, “Psychosomatics and Psychiatry” pages 10, 44 f., 48 f
  3. ^ Van Gorkom, Michael: Anxiety from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) . on-line
  4. Hanna, Thomas: Be flexible - for a lifetime . Kösel-Verlag, Munich 1990 ISBN 3466342406