Psychosomatic medicine

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Psychosomatic medicine is an interdisciplinary medical field studying the relationships of social, psychological, and behavioral factors on bodily processes and well-being in humans and animals. The influence that the mind has over physical processes — including the manifestations of physical disabilities that are based on intellectual infirmities, rather than actual injuries or physical limitations — is manifested in treatment by phrases such as the power of suggestion, the use of "positive thinking" and concepts like "mind over matter".

The academic forebear of the modern field of behavioral medicine and a part of the practice of consultation-liaison psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine integrates interdisciplinary evaluation and management involving diverse specialties including psychiatry, psychology, neurology, surgery, allergy, dermatology and psychoneuroimmunology. Clinical situations where mental processes act as a major factor affecting medical outcomes are areas where psychosomatic medicine has competence.[1]


History of psychosomatics

In the medieval Islamic world the Muslim psychologist-physicians Ahmed ibn Sahl al-Balkhi (d. 934) and Haly Abbas (d. 994) developed an early understanding of illness that was due to the interaction of the mind and the body. They realized how a patient's physiology and psychology can have an effect on one another. They found correlations between patients who were physically and mentally healthy and between those who were physically and mentally ill.[2] Avicenna (980-1037) recognized 'physiological psychology' in the treatment of illnesses involving emotions, and developed a system for associating changes in the pulse rate with inner feelings which is seen as an anticipation of the word association test later developed by Carl Jung.[3]

Franz Alexander led in the beginnings of the 20th century, the movement looking for the dynamic interrelation between mind and body.[4] Sigmund Freud pursued a deep interest in psychosomatic illnesses following his correspondence with Georg Groddeck who was, at the time, researching the possibility of treating physical disorders through psychological processes.[5]

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