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April 16, 1982

Social Environment and Health

JAMA. 1982;247(15):2162-2163. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320400072053

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Social Environment and Health is a compilation of lectures given by Dr Stewart Wolf at the University of Washington, Seattle, in 1979. In these lectures he attempted to describe and clarify the effects of social relationships on physical health and disease.

He begins the book with a historical perspective on health and disease, and proceeds to elucidate along a phylogenetic progression how various organisms show adaptive behaviors to changing environments.

In the second section of the book he reviews the extant literature on the effects of rapid social change on health and disease in terms of how it affects both the individual organism and society. In modern times, social structures and patterns have evolved rapidly, helping man to adapt to new circumstances. However, when the rate of change has outstripped this adaptation, man's internal mental and physical responses have become inappropriate, giving rise to the physiological diseases of civilization. Wolf