Psychiatric Times April Bonus Edition 2005 Vol. XXII Issue 5
Imagine sitting down for dinner with a colleague who enthusiastically starts discussing the latest developments in the following areas:
- The effects of stress reduction on health
- The hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis and stress
- The effect of massage therapy on the immune system of breast cancer patients
- The role of frontal lobe subcortical circuits in neuropsychiatric disorders
- The pharmacotherapy of somatoform disorders
- Psychological problems in patients with multiple sclerosis
- The connection between stress and cardiovascular disease
- The physiological correlates of burnout
The notion of a psychiatrist with such broad-ranging biopsychosocial knowledge is becoming increasingly plausible, given recent developments in the field of psychosomatic medicine. (Indeed, all the topics listed above were covered in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research within the past few years.) As Paula T. Trzepacz, M.D., president of the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine (APM), recently put it, "I cannot recall a more exciting time for this organization" (Trzepacz, 2005b). Trzepacz pointed to the recent decision of American Board of Psychiatry and the Neurology (ABPN) to make psychosomatic medicine a "bona fide subspecialty of psychiatry," with its own subspecialty board examination. Furthermore, the American Psychiatric Association has just established a Council on Psychosomatic Medicine, chaired by Phil Muskin, M.D. To top things off, the theme of this year's APA Annual Meeting is "Psychosomatic Medicine: Integrating Psychiatry and Medicine."
This flurry of recent developments, however, belies the long history of psychosomatic medicine. Indeed, the APM just celebrated its 50th anniversary as an organization for consultation-liaison (C-L) psychiatry.
A Brief History