The interaction of soul and body is continuous and in such a way that every mental phenomenon is imprinted on the body and every physical phenomenon is imprinted on the soul.
In the general population, it has been observed that under the same environmental conditions, only certain individuals develop a disease, while the remaining individuals remain healthy. Therefore, whether or not the person will eventually get sick also depends on the individual’s own vulnerability, which is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Environmental factors include stressful conditions, the degree of threat these conditions pose to the individual’s homeostasis, and the available resources that will enable the individual to cope with them. Environmental factors have a direct impact on the immune system, which functions as the body’s homeostatic mechanism.
Psychosomatic diseases are more likely to develop through experiencing chronic conflict than through the experience of an acute stressful event.
This book is the third volume of the “Psychosomatic Therapy” series, and some of the psychosomatic manifestations, symptoms, and diseases, which appear in adulthood, are described separately. They are analyzed in terms of the symptomatology of each disease, the psychological causes attributed to them, and the way in which they influence the manifestation and course of the diseases.
In the first volume of the series, with the title “Somatization and Psychosomatic Diseases in Psychotherapy”, the book is developed in two parts.
Part A consists of 8 chapters.
In the first chapter, a historical review is attempted, from primitive societies up to the present day, concerning the philosophical and medical considerations that were applied regarding the nature of humans and the relationship between body and soul. The structure and function of the nervous system, in particular the central nervous system and the brain, are then described in detail, since they have been shown to be associated to mental life on the basis of neuroscience. The endocrine system is also described as the basic survival system of the human body.
The second chapter focuses on the study of the two most prevalent health models of Western Medicine, the biomedical and the biopsychosocial models, while special reference and analysis are made to psychosomatic medicine and the holistic approach to patients with psychosomatic diseases which is mainly used today.
Thus, having laid the theoretical and conceptual foundations, the third chapter examines in detail the main theoretical interpretations attributed to psychosomatic disorders, in the context of their psychogenesis. The way in which the theoretical
background and methodology of psychosomatic investigation is still being shaped today is reflected in the neurobiological approach, the biopsychosocial approach, the psychoanalytic theory, the cognitive-behavioral approach, the theory of anxiety, as well as in the theory of family systems and the maternal-infant emotional bonding theory.
Immediately afterwards, in chapter four, the enigmatic concept of somatization is described, and a historical trajectory of its emergence is attempted, as well as the description of its association with Psychiatry and Psychosomatic Medicine. In this context, an attempt is made to understand somatization from the perspective of psychoanalytic theory, by analyzing important concepts such as those of primary depression and utilitarian thinking. In addition, the types of somatization are presented, distinguished according to deficiencies at the mental level, as well as cultural factors, which also play a key role in the onset of somatization.
In chapter five, the group of somatoform disorders is presented. These include conversion disorder, somatization disorder, hypochondriasis, body dysmorphic disorder, pain disorder, and somatoform disorder not otherwise specified. Their clinical diagnostic criteria, symptomatology, prevalence, and differential diagnosis are also mentioned. Furthermore, the etiology of somatoform disorders is described, as well as the two main psychotherapeutic approaches followed for their treatment, the cognitive-behavioral approach and the psychoanalytic approach.
In the next chapter, anxiety as a characteristic – distinguishing it from stress – is described, the etiological approaches to its manifestation are presented, and the organic, psychological, cognitive, as well as the emotional and psychosomatic reactions of the individual in stressful situations are analyzed. Its predisposing factors are also described, with emphasis on the individual’s life events and their resilience to stress.
Continuing, in chapter seven, the concept of personality is approached and its correlation with the occurrence of specific psychosomatic disorders is described, as well as the theoretical models for its interpretation. Key personality characteristics associated with psychosomatic diseases – such as Type A, Type C, and Type D personalities – are analyzed, and personality profiles for each somatic disease are described separately.
At the end of Part A, in chapter eight, the idiosyncratic characteristics manifested by psychosomatic patients are discussed, focusing on their basic emotions. The importance of the demographic factors that shape the patients’ behavior – such as culture, gender, and age – is also addressed, and lastly, reference is made to the attitude of these individuals towards the meaning of life and its overall association with mental health.
Part B, which follows, is divided into three chapters. Specifically:
In the first chapter, pain as a psychosomatic symptom is analyzed, while the next chapter provides a thorough analysis of the research data on psychosomatic diseases.
In chapter three, the main psychotherapeutic approaches to the treatment of the above diseases are described, and the most commonly used methods and techniques are discussed. In the conclusion, the main inferences are presented in the context of a critical review.
In the second volume of the series, with the title “Psychosomatic Manifestations, Symptoms and Diseases in Children and Adolescents”, a description of the most frequent psychosomatic symptoms encountered in children and adolescents is attempted, the main causal factors are presented, while at the same time the main interpretation theories for the psychosomatic manifestations are analyzed through the various psychological and psychotherapeutic approaches. There is a thorough analysis of the psychosomatic diseases found in children. Specifically, there are separate analyses of Anxiety Disorders, Skin Diseases, Asthma, Eating Disorders, Enuresis, Allergies, Headaches/Migraines, Spasms/Convulsions, Recurrent Accidents, and Gastrointestinal Diseases. There are descriptions of the disorders that fall into each disease category, the symptomatology of each disease separately, the etiology or pathology attributed to it according to different interpretive theories, and the way in which its manifestation and course are affected. Psychotherapeutic interventions are also described for each disorder.
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