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Evolving Concept Of Abnormal Illness Behavior & Clinical Implications

Sujita Kumar Kar, Rajesh Kumar


Objectives: The concept of “Abnormal illness behavior (AIB)” has been evolved to a greater extent in the last century. Henry Sigerist introduced the concept of “illness behavior” in 1929. Mechanic & Volkart defined and further conceptualized the impression on illness behavior. Talcott Parson had given the concept of “Sick role,” and Issy Pilosky had familiarized the notion of “abnormal illness behavior.” The main objective of this article is to review the conceptual evolution on “abnormal illness behavior” and to analyze its current clinical implications. 

Methods: Extensive search of literature was performed regarding abnormal illness behavior, illness behavior and sick role in online web searching sites like – Google Scholar, PubMed and individual journal sites as well as google books. The literature was critically reviewed with personal inputs from authors. 

Results: Abnormal illness behavior ranges from denial of illness in one extreme to conscious amplification of symptoms on the other. Abnormal illness behavior is noticed in various clinical conditions like stress-related disorder, stress-related disorders, factitious disorder and malingering. 

Conclusions: Identifying abnormal illness behavior can prevent unnecessary and excessive utilization of medical aids for the same. 

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Illness behavior; Sick role; Abnormal illness behavior; Somatoform disorder; Stress related disorders

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