Attachment and crying in patients with medically unexplained somatic symptoms

R. Jansman, M.M.E. Riem*, S. Broekhuizen-Dijksman, C. Veth, E. Beijer, A.J.J.M. Vingerhoets

*Corresponding author for this work

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Mentalization deficits and disturbances in emotional functioning may contribute to somatization in patients with medically unexplained somatic symptoms (MUSS). The present study aimed to increase understanding the psychological factors that contribute to somatization by examining associations between attachment, crying attitudes and behavior, and somatic symptoms in these patients. Attachment security was measured with the Experiences in Close Relationships Questionnaire in sixty-eight outpatients diagnosed with MUSS. Somatic symptom severity was measured with the RAND-36, crying frequency, and attitudes with the Adult Crying Inventory. Patients were asked to evaluate photographs of crying individuals in order to assess the perception of crying and empathic responses to crying. Attachment anxiety was significantly related to somatic symptom severity and negative attitudes toward crying. In addition, somatic symptom severity was related to a more negative attitude toward crying and less awareness of the interpersonal impact of crying on others. The association between attachment anxiety and somatic symptoms was, however, not mediated by crying or negative attitude toward crying. Neither were there significant associations between attachment, somatic symptoms, and empathic responses to crying. Altered attitudes to crying may stem from a history of insecure attachment experiences and may reflect maladaptive emotion strategies in MUSS patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1065–1072
JournalSN Comprehensive Clinical Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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