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Books, Journals, New Media
May 18, 2005

Psychosomatic Medicine

Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; Journal Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University.

JAMA. 2005;293(19):2414-2418. doi:10.1001/jama.293.19.2416

What is psychosomatic medicine? Why is this textbook of more than 1000 pages necessary? The book’s raison d’être should be considered in the context of the evolution of the field and the relevance of psychosomatic concepts to everyday medical practice.

The word psychosomatic was introduced in 1818 by Johann Heinroth; a century later Felix Deutsch introduced the term psychosomatic medicine.1 The term psychosomatic has often been used to imply illness that is caused or worsened by psychological factors. At one time, some thought that psychosomatic medicine held the promise of explaining causes of perplexing illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and hypertension. This proved not to be the case, and for many years psychosomatic concepts seemed less relevant to clinical medicine.