When Pain is Beyond Biology - A Case of Fake Leprosy

Lazslo Antonio Avila*, Eurides Maria de Oliveira Pozetti, Gislaine Fusco Fares, Rosa Maria Cordeiro Soubhia, Marilia Capuco Oliveira, Andreia Yumi Tomiyasu
Medical School of Sao Jose do Rio Preto, Brazil

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© 2017 Avila et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Av. Anisio Haddad, 8205, Bl. 4, apt 34, Sao Jose do Rio Preto, SP 15091-743, Brazil; Tel: 55-17-3232-4905; Fax: 55-17-3227-8133; E-mail:



Pain is a complex phenomenon that implies pathophysiological processes and psychosocial components. A 56-year-old female patient complaining of pain and presenting with multiple mild physical signs was examined by a multidisciplinary team from the Ear-Nose-Throat, Dermatology, Hematology, General Clinics, and Psychiatry and Psychology Departments.


To present a significant case where pain is primarily caused by psychological conflicts.


A multidisciplinary approach, with medical and psychological interventions.


The patient was deeply convinced; she had been contaminated by leprosy. Her enrooted personal beliefs, including religion and moral conflicts, seem to be the primary cause for her putative ‘disease’, a condition that was not confirmed by exhaustive exams.


Pain normally is related to several factors, including biological, psychological and cultural. Some complex cases should be investigated by a multidisciplinary team of specialists, in order to identify extra-physiological components.

Keywords: Biopsychosocial, Leprosy, Multidisciplinary, Pain, Psychosocial, Psychology.