What does the legacy of Hans Selye and Franz Alexander mean today? (The psychophysiological approach in medical practice)

Int J Psychophysiol. 1989 Nov;8(2):99-105. doi: 10.1016/0167-8760(89)90001-9.


At the founding session of the Working Group of Psychophysiology, Hungarian Psychiatric Society, the authors summarized the psychophysiological legacy of two Hungarian-born researchers, Hans Selye and Franz Alexander in medicine today. Emotional dysfunctions, anxiety and depression are a substantial risk factor in the emergence, course and recurrence of many illnesses of great epidemiological significance, such as ischemic heart diseases, in the prognosis of hormone-sensitive tumours in the middle-aged and, obviously, in alcoholism and suicide. In modern society the reduction of creative ability and the capacity for work is caused primarily not by physical damage, but rather by states of depression with anxiety and functional disorders arising as a result of transitional or lasting failure of the psychological capacities to resolve conflicts, leading to such states as chronic pain syndrome, functional cardiovascular and gastroenterological disorders. According to prognoses based on the above, lasting results can only be expected of preventive health programs if they take the results of modern psychophysiology seriously into account. On the basis of the recent theoretical achievements, we are capable not only of treating the symptoms but also of intervening in the causes. Psychotherapeutic methods and psychopharmacology supplement each other within this theoretical framework.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology
  • Heart Diseases / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Hungary
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Psychotic Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Risk Factors