The Watchdogs of Carver on Dr David DeMaso Somatoform Disorder Expert

Chief of Psychiatry at Boston Children's Hospital #FreeJustina
Chief of Psychiatry at Boston Children’s Hospital

the Watchdogs of Carver

A non-partisan citizens group that strives to represent the residents’ interests

#FreeJustina II “face-saving”, really?

After reading some of the comments at the blog I posted in my previous report, I searched for this “Fact or fiction: Somatoform disorders explored” document that used to be available on the Boston Children’s Hospital website.

It turns out that it recently was taken down. Coincidence? I think not. More likely, an attempt to lose that permanently. But the internet never forgets. Here are some of the excerpts from said document.

According to David DeMaso, MD, psychiatrist-in-chief at Children’s Hospital Boston, unexplained somatic complaints represent a significant and complex challenge to pediatricians.

An example would be a girl who develops an inability to walk that is unexplained by a medical condition, but is temporally related to family conflicts. She is”converting” a psychological stress into a physical symptom.

 An example would be a boy with recurrent stomach aches that correlate with stressful academic or social situations.

According to Dr. DeMaso, it’s crucial that pediatricians become proficient in identifying and managing these problems.

As some families go to their pediatrician certain that there is a medical cause for their child’s symptoms, Dr.DeMaso recommends that the pediatrician tell the family that he is requesting a psychiatry consultation as part of a comprehensive developmental biopsycho social evaluation that includes all aspects of the child’s life.

 “Families believe that the symptoms are due solely to a medical condition,” says Dr. DeMaso. “So having the pediatrician communicate the findings can be reassuring.”

 the family should be told that many important things were discovered, such as,”We have good news. We’ve ruled out a number ofserious illnesses.” Statements, such as, “We couldn’t find anything” or “The symptoms aren’t real,” should be avoided.

The use of physical therapy is helpful for many patientsas well. Not only does this give the patient a more proactive role in his or her treatment, but it also allows them a “face-saving” means for explaining improvement in their symptoms.

It’s beginning to be clearer and clearer for me. The DCF and Boston Childrens’ Hospital have developed a system to take children from their families, under the guidance of Mr. Demaso. This guy literally wrote the book on how to do exactly what is happening to Justina. #FreeJustinaNow


Author: Angela Grant

Angela Grant is a medical doctor. For 22 years, she practiced emergency medicine and internal medicine. She studied for one year at Harvard T. H Chan School Of Public Health. She writes about culture, race, and health.

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