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October 2022

Psychother Psychosom. 1979 ; 32(1-4): 134-47.

Liaison psychiatry as a systems approach to behavior.

Kimball CP.

In this overview, the psychosomatic theory is discussed from an evolutionary perspective. From its initial concern with relationship between emotions and physiology through psychopathology and anatomo-physio-pathology to socio-psycho-pathophysiology, psychosomatic medicine and its theory is presently viewed as an empiric science utilizing a number of conceptual approaches derived from developmental psychology, classical psychiatry, physiology, sociology and anthropology. These are applied to the study and care of patients in ambulatory and inpatient settings, which are the arenas of the consultation-liaison activity and may be viewed as the clinical laboratories of psychosomatic medicine. In these laboratories, a new language has developed which is largely phenomenological and which attempts to utilize theoretical concepts from several disciplines in explaining the illness illness phenomenon in the present. As such, the practitioner of Liaison Psychiatry is a general systems analyst who analyzes the illness situation of the patient and his attendants in an attempt to decipher the identified problem, explaining it by utilizing selected theoretical concepts from the basic sciences of behavior. Psychosomatic theory is seen as an evolving and bridging science attempting to integrate and combine particulate theory into a more comprehensive synthesis.


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