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Fundamentals of Psychoneuroimmunology


Author: Cai Song

Publisher: Wiley


Publish Date: July 26, 2000

ISBN-10: 471986712

Pages: 272

File Type: CHM

Language: English

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Book Preface

The belief that stress and the emotional states of an individual can have a major impact on bodily functions, and even be responsible for cancers, coronary disease and gastrointestinal distress, has been widely held since antiquity. For example, nearly 2000 years ago, the Greek physician Galen proposed that melancholic women were particularly prone to cancer of the reproductive organs due to an excess of “black bile”, which was believed to cause melancholia. In the first century BC, the Roman poet Virgil postulated that “mind moves matter”, while 300 years earlier the philosopher Aristotle advised that “Just as you ought not to attempt to use eyes without head or head without body, so you should not treat body without soul’’.

In more recent time, the French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes had a major impact on the way diseases were envisaged. Descartes proposed that the complex study of living organisms could best be understood by investigating the individual components that compromise the individual. He postulated that by considering the smaller and smaller components of the living organism, the functions of these components would probably become simpler to understand. This led to scientific reductionism, a philosophical approach which is particularly prevalent today in molecular neurobiology and many aspects of the neurosciences. The reductionist perspective of Descartes resulted in a number of advances and discoveries leading in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to an understanding of the importance of microorganisms in causing disease. Indeed by the nineteenth century, body and mind had become completely separated into those areas that belonged to the attention of philosophers and theologicians (mind) and those areas that belonged to the world of the physiologist, anatomist and clinician. However, despite the separation between mind and body in the eyes of the majority of medical scientists in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, some clinical researchers persisted in emphasizing the importance of emotional factors in physical disease. Thus the father of modern medicine, Sir William Osler, believed that it was more important to know what was going on in a patient’s head than in his chest to predict the outcome of pulmonary tuberculosis. He also recognized the psychosomatic nature of conditions such as systemic lupus

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