One hundred thirty-six (136) patients referred for manometry were studied to see if a multidimensional psychometric inventory could differentiate those with esophageal contraction abnormalities from subjects with other manometric diagnoses. Contraction abnormalities are manometric findings commonly used to support the diagnosis of esophageal spasm syndrome. Recent psychological symptoms were determined using the Hopkins Symptom Checklist/SCL-90R). Three groups of symptomatic patients were compared: those with contraction abnormalities (n = 86), those with aperistalsis (n = 14), and those with normal peristaltic patterns (n = 36). Subjects with contraction abnormalities appeared mildly and diffusely more psychologically symptomatic than those with aperistalsis, but these findings were not apparent with statistical control of between-group differences in recent pain. Contraction abnormality patients could not be differentiated from those with no manometric abnormality. These findings indicate that short-term emotional distress does not effectively differentiate patients with esophageal symptoms and contraction abnormalities from symptomatic patients with other manometric diagnoses.