Perceptual amplification

Somatosensory amplification is the tendency to experience bodily sensations as intense, noxious, and disturbing. Amplification may be a pathogenic mechanism in hypochondriasis which includes heightened self-scrutiny with attention focused upon benign sensations attributed to disease. In addition, low sensation thresholds and pain tolerance have been found among disease phobics. Strong correlations between amplification and hypochondriasis have been observed. (62)

Physiological arousal may also contribute to hypochondriasis.(63) Autonomic hyperactivity is associated with bodily symptoms, which the hypochondriacal person may attribute to serious disease (e.g. chest pain, palpitations). (64) Gramling et al.(65) observed physiological reactivity that distinguished hypochondriacal from non-hypochondriacal women. Hypochondriacal subjects had a higher heart rate (but a lower baseline heart rate) and lower hand temperature during a cold pressor test compared to non-hypochondriacal controls. These subjects terminated the test more frequently and rated it as more unpleasant than did controls.

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