Title

The enduring appeal of psychosocial explanations of physical illness

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2018

Abstract

The idea that the mind plays a significant role in bodily health has a long history, with a popular appeal grounded in the need for personal control. A century of research into the connections between the mind and body has its roots in both psychoanalysis and physiology. While Freud outlined the metaphorical concept of conversion, the notion of stress was central to giving the mind-body connection a physiological basis. Stress paved the way for postwar research into personality as a contributing factor to health outcomes. The results of this research have been relatively disappointing, however, exhibiting declining associations, albeit with some convergence. Recent physiologically oriented research implicating neurobiology, genetics, and the immune system has likewise undermined the suggestion that personality traits can directly cause disease. Nevertheless, wishful public understandings emphasizing the power of the mind over body and individual responsibility refuse to disappear, with some unfortunate consequences.

Publication Name

Personality and Disease: Scientific Proof vs. Wishful Thinking

First Page

205

Last Page

222

DOI

10.1016/B978-0-12-805300-3.00011-6

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