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Can J Psychiatry. 1986 Feb;31(1):2-7.

Psychosomatic medicine: past and present. Part I. Historical background.


Psychosomatic Medicine as an organized field of scientific inquiry and a mode of approach to patient care has existed for 50 years. It has focused on the study of the interaction of psychosocial and biological factors in health and disease. Despite its relatively recent origin, this field continues a long tradition in Western thought and medicine, one concerned with the reciprocal relationship of mind and body as two integral aspects of the human organism. That tradition goes back to ancient Greece and represents a counterpoint to the dualistic and reductionistic conceptions. Psychosomatic medicine merged as a reaction against them and as an organized attempt to subject various aspects of mind-body relationship in health and disease to scientific inquiry. Three major methodological approaches to such inquiry have been employed: the psychoanalytic, the psychophysiological, and the psychobiological. The author discusses the relative contributions of these approaches in the first phase in the development of psychosomatic medicine, i.e. between circa 1930 and 1960.

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