Psychosomatics, in one of its most simple and shortest definitions, is the study of the psychological accompaniment of all diseases. What makes it stand out from the vast field of psychoanalysis is that, in addition to approaching the three famous disorders of psychosis, neurosis and perversion, it also adds to the equation “the body and its history” (Caïn, 1998, page 15).
To further outline the differences between the two areas of study, we can focus on what premises psychology and psychosomatics base their research on. For example, if a patient presents symptoms that are related not only to endocrinology, but also to a certain psychotic state, a psychoanalyst would argue that the entire psychotic disorder comes as a consequence to the infliction undertaken by the patient’s body. However, a researcher in the field of psychosomatics would question the long psychiatric tradition that maintains a one-way cause for all psychological disorders and would eventually invert this association between our body and our mind.
Psychosomatics maintains that what a patient’s body reveals may very well be rooted in his or her mind and that the vice versa has not always got accurate basis. Nevertheless, it is best to keep away from the two most common mistakes made in psychosomatics: taking causality for granted and adopting a nosography-based attitude towards the patient (nosography meaning a nomenclature for diseases). Caïn argues that the diseases one learns during Medicine school are nothing but a conceptual apparatus used for communicating with more ease (Caïn, 1998, p. 28), but do not bear a certain pragmatic value themselves.
1. Jacques Caïn (1998), Psychoanalysis and psychosomatics, translated into Romanian by Rodica Matei, Bucharest, Trei.