The Whittemore Peterson Institute is deeply concerned that there will
be future complex biological diseases of unknown origin, which could
too easily be ignored as the result of the diagnosis of “complex
somatic disorders”. This would result in serious consequences for
those patients who continue to decline in health without appropriate
The term CSSD may also serve as a diagnosis to be used by physicians
who currently lack the sophisticated diagnostic tools to describe a
new and emerging illness, causing serious harm to those who are ill.
Two such recent examples of diseases once categorized as somatic
illnesses are multiple sclerosis which was originally called,
“hysterical women’s disease” and gastrointestinal ulcers. Only after
these diseases were pursued by those who believed in their physical
causes with subsequent biological research, were medically effective
treatments made available. Thus creating a somatic diagnosis, when
there is in fact a physical illness, would relegate a population of
patients to many more years of suffering, while basic biological
research funding is denied.
For these reasons, the WPI requests that the APA thoughtfully examine
the purpose and possible unintended consequences for the encompassing
somatic category of illness, Complex Somatic Disorder, and
emphatically requests that the DSM-5 task force reject CSSD, as a
medical or psychiatric diagnosis.