Symbolic Diseases and ‘mindbody’ Co-emergence. A Challenge for Psychoneuroimmunology

Broom, BC
Booth, R
Schubert, C
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Journal Article
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Physical diseases that appear to be symbolic somatic representations of patients’ personal meanings or individual ‘stories’ continue to be reported in the medical literature. The identification of a symbolic disease requires a clinical focus upon a patient’s highly individual and nuanced meanings largely rendered invisible by the usual methodologies of clinical and research medicine, which has no coherent model for understanding symbolic disease. Therefore, a model is proposed of co-emergence of physicality and subjectivity, body and mind, disease and meaning, disease and symbol, which does provide a coherent basis for understanding symbolic disease. The ‘mindbody’ co-emergence model avoids mind and body dualism, assumes unbroken continuity between internal body processes and external interpersonal meanings and influences, and asserts that disease-related ‘internal’ bodily changes and collateral external interpersonal and environmental fluxes are mutually contingent and crucial to the development of the disease. The co-emergence model is discussed specifically in relation to psychoneuroimmunology, but it has exciting clinical and research implications for the whole of medicine.

Co-emergence , Psychoneuroimmunology , Symbolic illness , Disease paradigm(s) , Disease models , Meaning , Dualism , Holism , Wholism , Mind/body
Explore: The Journal of Science and healing, vol.8(1), pp.16 - 25
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Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in (see Citation). Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. The definitive version was published in (see Citation). The original publication is available at (see Publisher's Version)