Developments have occurred in all aspects of psychosomatic medicine. Among factors affecting individual vulnerability to all types of disease, the following have been highlighted by recent research: recent and early life events, chronic stress and allostatic load, personality, psychological well-being, health attitudes and behavior. As to the interaction between psychological and biological factors in the course and outcome of disease, the presence of psychiatric (DSM-IV) as well as subclinical (Diagnostic Criteria for Psychosomatic Research) symptoms, illness behavior and the impact on quality of life all need to be assessed. The prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of physical illness include the consideration for psychosomatic prevention, the treatment of psychiatric morbidity and abnormal illness behavior and the use of psychotropic drugs in the medically ill. In the past 60 years, psychosomatic medicine has addressed some fundamental questions, contributing to the growth of other related disciplines, such as psychoneuroendocrinology, psychoimmunology, consultation-liaison psychiatry, behavioral medicine, health psychology and quality of life research. Psychosomatic medicine may also provide a comprehensive frame of reference for several current issues of clinical medicine (the phenomenon of somatization, the increasing occurrence of mysterious symptoms, the demand for well-being and quality of life), including its new dialogue with mind-body and alternative medicine.
Copyright 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel.