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The European Journal of Psychiatry

Print version ISSN 0213-6163


LOBO, Antonio; LOZANO, Maximino  and  DIEFENBACHER, Albert. Psychosomatic Psychiatry: a European View. Eur. J. Psychiat. [online]. 2007, vol.21, n.2, pp.153-168. ISSN 0213-6163.

Background: Consultation-Liaison (C-L) psychiatry, the discipline practiced by psychiatrists working with medical patients, has expanded considerably and the approval as the newest psychiatric subspecialty in the USA has been welcomed. However, the new denomination chosen, Psychosomatic Medicine, has stirred-up controversies in Europe. Methods: Review of the literature and discussion of historical, empirical and philosophical bases for a new proposal. Results: We argue that a new denomination is appropriate, and consider the term psychiatry unnegotiable: we are dealing with a specialized area in the psychiatric field, the answer from psychiatry to meet doctors' demands; and the complexity of psychopathological problems presented in medical patients requires specialized experience. Furthermore, contrary to some reductionist, biological views, we consider psychiatry a conspicuous, humanistic medical discipline. We also support the adjective psychosomatic, which reflects the history of the humanistic and scientific 'psychosomatic movement' in medicine. However, the ambiguities surrounding the word should be minimized. Psychosomatic views have been and may still be a stimulus for productive research and for advance in the field, but the excesses of some psychogenetic, non evidence-based theories should be firmly criticized. Conclusion: We argue strongly in favour of the denomination Psychosomatic Psychiatry for the discipline practiced by psychiatrists working with medical patients, in the intersection with other medical specialities.

Keywords : History; Philosophy; Psychosomatic Psychiatry; Liaison Psychiatry; Psychosomatic Medicine; Subspecialty.

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