Behind that ballyhooing title is a new word, ""somatopsychic,"" coined to describe the effects of bodily conditions (soma)...


YOU MAY NOT NEED A PSYCHIATRIST: How Your Body May Control Your Mind

Behind that ballyhooing title is a new word, ""somatopsychic,"" coined to describe the effects of bodily conditions (soma) on mind or behavior (psyche). It is, of course, the obverse of psychosomatic, which was first used in the Twenties, says Galton, to describe how mental states affect health. Conditions such as ulcers, colitis, and headache have long been thought to involve psychosomatic factors, and so may heart disease and cancer. Turnabout seems fair play, especially since patients with organic disorders Who display behavioral symptoms have often been told ""it's all in your mind."" But, far from being a survey of the disorders in question, this is simply a rehash of everything Galton has published recently on disease in general--including all the ""psychosomatic"" ones. It is hardly news that nutritional deficiencies, hypoglycemia, anemias, hormonal imbalances, alcoholism, and such systemic diseases as lupus--not to mention the range of gastrointestinal tract disorders--often give rise to fatigue, anxiety, confusion, depression, or bald psychotic episodes. Nor is it surprising that chronic use of prescription drugs may have unwanted psychological side effects, or that elderly patients diagnosed as demented may be suffering from drug effects or cardiovascular problems. Only occasionally--when dealing with such syndromes as temporomandibular joint dysfunction, certain sleep disorders, or the neurologically-based Tourette's syndrome--is Galton on the mark, describing conditions which have been notoriously misdiagnosed with referrals for psychiatric treatment. The real point to be made, perhaps, is that the mind-body dualism itself is false, and the sooner patients and physicians recognize the constant interaction of soma and psyche the better off we'll be. Had Galton addressed that theme, he might have made a valuable contribution. But with his insistence that such-and-such a disorder may be more prevalent than you think, he merely encourages layman's hypochondria, or attempting to peg a psychic malaise to a Real Disease.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1979


Page Count: -

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1979