'Medically unexplained symptoms'

‘Medically unexplained symptoms’ go by many names: persistent physical symptoms (PPS), functional somatic syndromes (FSS) and, in DSM-5, somatic symptom disorder (although the latter extends psychiatric reach into medically explained symptoms where the patient’s response to such symptoms is deemed ‘excessive’ or ‘disproportionate’). The greatest irony of MUS is that many MUS patients are refused biomedical investigation beyond routine bloodwork, meaning that MUS might more accurately be an acronym for ‘medically under-investigated symptoms’. The number of illnesses which fall under the MUS umbrella appears to be growing, highlighting the ascendency of biopsychosocial philosophy and psychiatry.

In this category of blogs, I hope to highlight and discuss many of the illnesses which can be shoehorned into the reach of MUS discourse. What is sometimes forgotten in research and practice is that behind such labels and constructs are human beings; the real-life impact of being labelled with MUS, and the harms of medical hubris in this field, will also be discussed.