Table 3.

Reasons why blanket statements about functional disorders may often be counter-productive

Inappropriate explanation or actionNegative beliefs and consequences
I will just repeat this test to reassure youThe doctor would not have repeated this if he was convinced nothing was wrong
You have no heart/lung/brain/other diseaseThe absence of negative results does not take the problem away from the discipline and can be interpreted by the patient as the doctor believing the symptom is made up
The tests show you are completely wellAn obvious mistake – but any comment suggesting the symptoms are not serious will be badly received
There is no evidence that anything is seriously wrongThe patient concludes that they must therefore try harder to find the evidence from other sources
Is everything all right at home?Any comment suggesting that the problem is all in the mind will lead to an angry response