psychosomatic medicine

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psychosomatic medicine

(sī'kōsōmăt`ĭk), study and treatment of those emotional disturbances that are manifested as physical disorders. The term psychosomatic emphasizes essential unity of the psyche and the soma, a combination rooted in ancient Greek medicine. Common disorders caused at least partly by psychological factors include childhood asthmaasthma
, chronic inflammatory respiratory disease characterized by periodic attacks of wheezing, shortness of breath, and a tight feeling in the chest. A cough producing sticky mucus is symptomatic.
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, certain gastrointestinal problems, hypertension, endocrine disturbances, diabetes, and possibly even heart disease. In most psychosomatic conditions there is some interaction between psychological factors and physiological predisposition to the illness. Sigmund FreudFreud, Sigmund
, 1856–1939, Austrian psychiatrist, founder of psychoanalysis. Born in Moravia, he lived most of his life in Vienna, receiving his medical degree from the Univ. of Vienna in 1881.

His medical career began with an apprenticeship (1885–86) under J.
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, at the end of the 19th cent., laid the scientific groundwork for psychosomatic study, with his theoretical formulations based on new methods of treating hysteriahysteria
, in psychology, a disorder commonly known today as conversion disorder, in which a psychological conflict is converted into a bodily disturbance. It is distinguished from hypochondria by the fact that its sufferers do not generally confuse their condition with real,
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. His methods were reinforced by the psychobiology of the American psychiatrist Adolf Meyer and the research of the American physiologist W. B. Cannon on the physiological effects of acute emotion. The treatment of psychosomatic ailments may involve a medical regimen as well as some form of psychotherapypsychotherapy,
treatment of mental and emotional disorders using psychological methods. Psychotherapy, thus, does not include physiological interventions, such as drug therapy or electroconvulsive therapy, although it may be used in combination with such methods.
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 for the patient. In recent years, psychosomatic medicine has been subsumed under the broader field of behavioral medicine, which includes the study of a wider range of physical ailments. Understanding the psychological causes of various ailments is crucial: studies suggest that a large percentage of deaths are rooted in behavior. In the 1960s, concepts related to conditioning gained prominence, as researchers found that humans and animals could learn to control their autonomic nervous system responses, usually involved in psychosomatic complaints. Emerging from this research came the technique of biofeedback that provides individuals with information concerning their own physiological responses, which they may begin to alter through conscious techniques of control. The newest area of research related to psychosomatic medicine has been called psychoneuroimmunology, the study of the interactions of the endocrine system, central nervous system, and immune system. Researchers believe that studies of these biological systems can help to show how an individual becomes vulnerable to illness.


See J. M. Kuldau, ed., Treatment for Psychosomatic Problems (1982); C. P. Wilson and I. L. Mintz, ed., Psychosomatic Symptoms (1989).

References in periodicals archive ?
It reflects the move to integrative postmodernistic solutions to the psychosomatic illness of IBS.
Anecdotal reports and reviews in the pediatric, (3-8) pub monary, (9-15) psychiatric, (16,17) and otolarynologic (18-26)literature describe a psychosomatic illness that manifests as spontaneously resolving stridor.
Also important to him is the use of non-invasive technology, endoscopic techniques to evaluate functional disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, and efforts to find organic causes for symptoms in patients previously diagnosed as having psychosomatic illness.
The studies on the relationship between gender and psychosomatic illness are contradictory.
The firm's published research reports, including today's complete report on CFS as a psychosomatic illness, are available on our internet home page located at http://www.
It is part of the strategy of the lore spreaders that you never, ever admit that any vet's claims are incredible, or that even a single veteran anywhere might be suffering psychosomatic illness.
5 million other Americans, most of whom were women and people under 45, doctors dismissed it as a mere psychosomatic illness.
As a result, Darwin grieved insufficiently for his mother, and paid for this suppression with years of psychosomatic illness.