Pseudo Relationships: An Interpersonal Characteristic of Patients with Somatic Symptom Disorder in an Iranian Sample

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Psychiatry, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran



Introduction: Somatic Symptoms Disorder (SSD), is one of the psychological issues which is highly influenced by cultural factors. Numerous studies have indicated a high prevalence of SSD in Iran, which may be due to cultural factors that influence interpersonal relations. To address this issue, the aim of this study was to explore interpersonal patterns of Iranian patients with SSD.
Method: A qualitative thematic analysis was performed on data collected from 34 interviews with patients, patient’s relatives and mental health professionals. The sample were recruited throughout a purposeful and theoretical sampling.
Results: Thematic analysis revealed an overarching theme: pseudo relationships. This theme was shaped by two organizing themes: 1- Pretending flawlessness in relationships with two subthemes: (pretending perfection in interpersonal relations and denial of interpersonal problems) and; 2- Relational depth avoidance with two subthemes (development of symptoms to avoid interpersonal expectations, distance and friendship).
Conclusion: From the results of this study, it can be concluded that Iranian SSD patients try to deny their interpersonal problems, avoid deep interpersonal relations and keep their relationships at a superficial level which suggests considerations for treatment.


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