Understanding the body-mind in primary care

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelfagfællebedømt

Patients’ experience of symptoms does not follow the body–mind divide that characterizes the classification of disease in the health care system. Therefore, understanding patients in their entirety rather than in parts demands a different theoretical approach. Attempts have been made to formulate such approaches but many of these, such as the biopsychosocial model, are still basically dualistic or methodologically reductionist. In primary care, patients often present with diffuse symptoms, making primary care the ideal environment for understanding patients’ undifferentiated symptoms and disease patterns which could readily fit both bodily and mental categories. In this article we discuss theoretical models that have attempted to overcome this challenge: The psychosomatic approach could be called holistic in the sense of taking an anti-dualistic stance. Primary care theorists have formulated integrative views but these have not gained a foothold in primary care medicine. McWhinney introduced a new metaphor, ‘the body–mind’, and Rudebeck advocated cultivating ‘bodily empathy’. These views have much in common with both phenomenological thinking and mentalization, a psychological concept for understanding others. In the process of understanding patients there is a need for the physician to enter an intersubjectivity that aims at understanding the patient’s experiences and sensations without initially jumping to diagnostic conclusions or into a division into mental and physical phenomena. Mentalization theory could form the basis of an approach to a more comprehensive understanding of patients. The success of such an approach is, however, dependent upon structural and organizational conditions that do not counteract it.
TidsskriftMedicine, Healthcare and Philosophy
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)581-594
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2016

ID: 169434209