Medically unexplained physical symptoms: causation and treatment

Események betöltése
Medically unexplained physical symptoms - A workshop with Dr. Maury Joseph

On the 24th of February, 2023 ISTDP Hungary organizes an online event with Dr. Maury Joseph for health care professionals about the causation, maintenance, and treatment of Medically Unexplained Physical Symptoms.

Do you have a troubled group of patients with chronic fatigue, pain, insomnia, gastrointestinal problems or headache, where the cause of their symptoms are uncertain?

Please join us in February and Dr. Maury Joseph will help you to understand those patients better by considering emotional and stress-related factors of their suffering to lessen the burden of the diffuse symptoms on their physical, mental, social, and vocational well being.

The event is sponsored by the Hungarian Medical Association.

Medically Unexplained Symptoms and emotions

The emotional centers of the brain connect with every physical structure of the body through the nervous system. As a result, our emotional responses to events in our world have a physiological component. When the physiological component of our psychological experience is subjectively distressing, we may seek somatic treatments for what is ultimately a psychological problem.
On the 24th of February, 2023, between 15:00 and 17:30 CET, ISTDP Hungary organizes an online event with Dr. Maury Joseph for Hungarian medical professionals about the causation, maintenance, and treatment of Medically Unexplained Physical Symptoms.
When our physical symptoms are caused by or exacerbated by emotional factors, they can be difficult or impossible to solve using a purely somatic medical approach. The symptoms or syndromes may be labeled with descriptions like “fibromyalgia”, “irritable bowel syndrome”, or “chest pain”, but they remain “medically unexplained”. If the emotional contributors to the symptoms are not detected, treatment can devolve into a seemingly never-ending process of specialist referrals, tests, prescriptions, and procedures that yield little more than placebo, at best. This process can exacerbate symptoms, due to repeated cycles of false hope and disappointment for the patient; and it can also lead to burnout for the treating physicians.

However, if psychological factors can be detected, appropriate referrals can be made earlier in the process, leading to better outcomes and increased satisfaction for both patients and their doctors.

About the MUS event in February

The goal of this presentation is to sensitize medical doctors to some of the psychological patterns that can cause or contribute to physical symptom presentations, so that they may be more likely to detect the psychological aspects of causation and render appropriate referrals.

This presentation will cover 6 major psychological patterns that can cause or contribute to psychosomatic presentations:

  • Striated muscle anxiety,
  • Smooth muscle anxiety,
  • Anxiety in the form of cognitive and perceptual disruption,
  • Conversion,
  • Somatization,
  • Health anxiety.

The presentation will also cover a method of focused interviewing that can help physicians to elicit and detect important diagnostic information during patient visits. Video examples will help illustrate various patient responses.


All participants must be licensed health care professionals or registered students in such a program and adhere to the confidentiality agreement below. Licensed health care professionals in Hungary has an „Egészségügyi szolgáltatás nyújtására jogosító Működési engedély”.

Dr. Maury Joseph

Dr. Maurice Joseph
Dr. Maurice Joseph

Maury Joseph, Psy.D. is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Washington, DC and Pennsylvania. His training and expertise is in both short-term and long-term models of psychodynamic therapy, which he uses flexibly and integratively. Along with Joseph Cooper, Ph.D. he co-founded the Institute for Emotions and Health in DC, a practice focused on diagnosis and treatment of medically unexplained physical symptoms, psychophysiologic disorders, and stress-related physical symptoms. Dr. Joseph served as faculty chair of the Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy training program at the Washington School of Psychiatry, and was a faculty member there from 2015-2020. He also served as an assistant clinical faculty member at George Washington University and adjunct faculty at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, offering courses and supervision to clinical psychology doctoral students. He currently offers weekly private seminars on psychoanalytic listening and interpersonal/relational psychoanalysis. He enjoys writing and presenting about therapy to students and professionals. For more on his training and educational history: LinkedIn


Date – 24 February, 2023.

Time – 15:00-17:30 CET

Platform – Virtual Workshop via Zoom. You will get the zoom link shortly before the event to your email address provided at registration. Please make sure that when joining the meeting, your zoom name is the same as the name you are registered with, not something like „Huawei9” or „MediLaptop”. Please keep your camera turned on throughout the training.

Language – English (without translation)

Admission – free

Maximum number of registrants – 500 people

SponsorHungarian Medical Association


In case of being a licensed health care professional, please fill in the Google form provided here or use this link:

References and sources

  • The term Medically Unexplained Symptoms is in some cases treated as synonymous to terms such as psychosomatic symptoms, conversion disorders, somatic symptoms, somatisation, somatoform disorders, functional disorders, bodily distress, and persistent physical symptoms.
  • Abbass, A. (2003). The cost-effectiveness of short-term dynamic psychotherapy. Expert Review of Pharmacoeconomics Outcomes Research, 3, 535-539.
  • Abbass, A. (2004). The case for specialty-specific core curriculum on emotions and health. Royal College Outlook, 1, 5-7.
  • Abbass, A. (2005). Somatization: Diagnosing it sooner through emotion-focused interviewing. The Journal of Family Practice, 54, 215-224.
  • Abbass, A., Campbell, S., Magee, K., & Tarzwell, R. (2009). Intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy to reduce rates of emergency department visits for patients with medically unexplained physical symptoms: Preliminary evidence from a pre-post intervention study. Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine, 11, 1-6.
  • Abbass, A., Campbell, S., Hann, G., Lenzer, I., Tarzwell, R., & Maxwell, D. (2010). Cost savings of treatment of medically unexplained symptoms using intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy by a hospital emergency department. Journal of the Academy of Medical Psychology, 1, 34-43.
  • Davanloo, H. (2000). Intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy: Selected papers of Habib Davanloo, MD. Chichester: Wiley.
  • Janig, W. (2003). The autonomic nervous system and its coordination by the brain. In Davidson, R. J., Scherer, K. R., & Goldsmith, H. H. (Eds.), Handbook of affective sciences (pp. 135-187). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Image by syarifahbrit on Freepik
  • Image by syarifahbrit on Freepik