Daughter Fears Illness

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My 11 yr old daughter is scared she has an illness or disease.. She seems paranoid about it. She told me last night she was afriad to die as all/most of us are, but seems obsessed with it almost. Everyday she says something hurts. Its not that i dont believe her, I just want to know if this is a phase kids go threw and is normal or should I seek therapy locally and often. I know she is going threw puberty and hormones are flaring and bones are streching and growing. Everyday, Everyday…. she says something hurts. I took her to the doctor for a lump she felt under her jaw and her doctor mentioned psyco-sematic? I dont understand what she means and I googled the term and I am still not clear as to what this means. Could you please help?? This has been going on for about two months, my daughter has never been abused sexually, mentally, nothing tragic has happened in our family besides natural death. Her real father is not in her life and never has been, not sure if this has anything to do with it. My fiance has been a part of her life for 10 years and he is strict but loving and makes her do what she is responsible for. Sometimes when he lets her know hes upset she didnt do what she was asked of her he goes on and on and on about why she should have listened and how she gets everything she wants and the least she could do is listen and on and on and on im not sure if this is somehow depressing her. I dont know what to do or think. I am worried about her…. HELP

A. It is abnormal to be constantly fearful of developing a disease. It’s also not something that’s commonly associated with puberty. Something seems to be wrong. Something is bothering her. The doctor mentioned that what she might be experiencing is psychosomatic. Psychosomatic means that a person is experiencing psychological problems that are expressed as physical symptoms or ailments.

Your daughter may be experiencing anxiety. You don’t think that she has experienced a traumatic event but it’s possible that she has. Perhaps she has but never told you. Remember, many child abuse victims are afraid to reveal what has happened to them. In addition to fear, many others will not reveal their abuse because they feel guilty. Many will continue to deny the abuse, that they very well remember, for their entire adult lives. Others will reveal the abuse when forced to by emotional problems or other abuse victims.

There is also the issue of how your fiancée treats your daughter. You may not consider his treatment of her harsh but she might. It may or may not be contributing to the problem.

She should be evaluated by a mental health professional. A therapist will gather a complete psychosocial history and attempt to determine what may be wrong. The therapist may request that all members of the family participate in treatment to gain a more complete understanding of family dynamics. Don’t ignore this problem or simply hope it will go way. It needs to be addressed and having a psychosocial evaluation is a wise place to start. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Sep 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Daughter Fears Illness. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/09/23/daughter-fears-she-is-sick/