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How did the biopsychosocial model of health and illness develop?

William B. Salt II., MD
Gastroenterology
It was not until the early 1900's, with the work of Sigmund Freud and the rise of modern psychiatry, that physical health began to be reintegrated with the psychological and social environment. Freud's original ideas about compulsion neuroses laid the foundation for a more integrated model of health. Basically, Freud's concept of compulsion neuroses states that if you don't work it out (your troubled thoughts, feelings or images) you'll act it out (either through mental illness or physical illness).

Drawing on Freud's concepts and more completely reintegrating the mind and the body, George Engel, M.D., proposed the biopsychosocial model of illness and health in the late 1970's. Engel's biopsychosocial model holds that multiple factors -- biological (physical, neurochemical), psychological (thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs) and social (interpersonal relationships) -- are interrelated elements of health. For example, the presence or absence of social support, high levels of stress, depression and physical/biochemical abnormalities interact at the cellular level to produce a state of health or illness. The biopsychosocial model of health proposes that health and illness are caused by multiple factors and produce multiple effects. The mind and body are not separate in relation to issues of health and illness because they both influence the state of health.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

Fast Facts on IBS: One in five people suffers from the frustrating symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). There is no simple answer--no pill, potion, or quick fix--that will cure IBS. But help...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.