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JAMA Revisited
November 13, 2018

No Intimations as Yet

JAMA. 2018;320(18):1943. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.12655

Originally Published November 11, 1968 | JAMA. 1968;206(7):1560.

Unwillingly, almost unwittingly, the modern physician finds himself propelled into fields seemingly remote from the healing art. The World Health Organization’s definition of health as “a state of physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity” moves him farther into the realm of psychology, socioeconomics, and politics. Problems of birth control, resuscitation, and organ transplantation thrust him deeper into the domain of ethics, religion, and the law. And recent neurologic and psychoendocrinologic researches edge him so close to the philosophic marshlands of mind-matter dichotomies that, in his essay on “Psychosomatic Medicine and the Brain-Mind Relationship,” Lord Brain1 found it necessary to state that one need not be philosophically committed in order to deal with psychosomatic disorders. Some hold that the mind and the brain are separate entities which interact; others that they are two aspects of the same entity. But either of these views can, according to Brain, “give an account of psychosomatic disorders which is quite adequate for ordinary needs…so there is no need to choose between them, nor indeed to consider this philosophical problem further.”