Berlin, December 16, 2020 – Anyone who is sick has a defect – if it is repaired, the patient is cured. This is how people used to think about illness and health. Today we know: This only applies to very few diseases. In most cases, the development of diseases and their healing are complex problems in which the body, psyche and social environment interact.
If you feel uncomfortable or in pain, you want to find the reason for it as quickly as possible. But that’s not always easy. In the case of back pain, for example, no specific, physical cause can be found in over 80 percent of cases. In this so-called unspecific back pain, physical triggers such as For example, lifting heavy objects, encountering previous burdens such as stress at work or excessive demands in caring for relatives, pre-existing tension or a pessimistic basic attitude that intensify or maintain the pain.
Illnesses for which a physical cause is found can also have emotional and social consequences that aggravate the illness or make it chronic. On the other hand, physical factors can also play a role in disorders that doctors would locate primarily on the psychological side (such as depression ).
See The Human Being in Its Entirety
This holistic understanding of illness and health describes the bio-psychosocial model. The term was coined by the American medical theorist George L. Engel in the late 1970s. While working in the hospital, he saw that a young patient in the hospital reacted positively to the presence of a certain person, both mentally and physically. This observation made him look further into how feelings, relationships, and physical reactions affect one another.
In this model, illness and health do not mean a state, but are viewed as dynamic events. The interplay of disease-causing and protective factors is crucial: In all three systems – the biological, the psychological and the social – disease-causing factors (stressors) can become effective and impair health.
In the biological system, for example, it can be germs that cause an infection or an accident that causes an injury. In the psychic system z. B. fear or depression mean stress, in the social system z. B. bad living or working conditions are negative. Depending on the illness, environmental influences and personal characteristics, sometimes one factor has a stronger effect.
The interaction of the factors biology, psychology and social environment also means that we can regulate and cope with “disorders” to a certain extent: Because there is something at every level that you can do yourself to influence your health. In terms of physical factors, it is, for example, sufficient sleep , regular exercise and a needs-based, healthy diet that prove beneficial. The health-promoting psychological factors include z. B. Avoid stress, a positive attitude and an occupation that gives the feeling of being needed. A regular exchange with friends and acquaintances, activities and mobility are social factors that we can influence.
Obsolete: Strict Distinction Between Sick And Healthy
The biopsychosocial model is internationally recognized and is now considered the most important theory for the relationship between body and mind.
The food for thought and debates surrounding this understanding of illness have led to the strict distinction between sick and healthy being considered obsolete. Today it is assumed that people are more or less functional on a biological, psychological and social level. This means that sick people are always more or less healthy.
New Therapeutic Approaches Combine Different Disciplines
If one follows the assumption that biology, psychology and the social environment work together in a disease, treatment should not start on just one level. You have to look at all the individual influencing factors. It also depends on good cooperation and exchange between the professional groups. In the treatment of chronic pain , so-called multimodal therapies are offered, in which treatments are carried out on an interdisciplinary basis at all levels.