Good Psychology – Spirituality, Evolutionary, & Lifespan …

Posted: October 28, 2014 at 1:48 am

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Western medicine historically has had a very biological approach in how doctors and nurses treated their patients, whereas the field of psychology had evolved from studying the mental and biological phenomenon of the human mind. These fields remained separate specializations of study in Western and European cultures, yet they had coexisted together in Native American, Latino, and Asia cultures for centuries. Descartes theory of dualism is slowly being dismissed and now there are some Western medical theories in place that incorporate some mental and biological factors that have been promoted by other cultures in the past (Lovallo, 2004). The first is the Psychosocial Theory.

The Psychosocial Theories of disease and treatment evolved from the biomedical approach which had a linear, cause and effect vision as to how the disease process worked (Lovallo, 2004). The biomedical path stated that disease is caused by a pathogenic stimulus, it leads to a physiological and biomechanical reaction, and then the disease state is achieved. The Psychosocial Theory furthered this definition of disease by incorporating concepts such as understanding that the body could have disease as a result of sociocultural malfunctioning, psychophysiological dysfunctions, or physiological dysfunction alone (Lovallo, 2004). The understanding of psychosocial theories is very important to further how the medical field understands the relationship between social networks and support and recovery or prevention rates. For example, a group of 90 patients with traumatic brain injury were studied to assess if there was a relationship between the level of social support they received and their recovery rate (Kendall, 2003). The study did account for the differences in brain damage severity but concluded that there were improved vocational recovery rates in the patients with higher levels of social support.

Health psychologists refer to the biopsychosocial model as the conceptual basis for their practice, research, and policy making (Suls and Rothman, 2004). This theory looks at health and illness as a combination of a variety of contributing factors such as genetic predisposition, lifestyle factors, family relationships, social support, and behavior. (Lopez and Jones, 2006; Suls and Rothman, 2004). Engel (1968) concluded that prior to the onset of illness the patients had displayed psychological disturbances such as a feeling of being unable to cope with lifes circumstances which resulted in biological changes that may have altered the patients ability to defend off pathogens resulting in the development of disease. George Engel, a medical doctor who some believe is the founder of the biopsychosocial model, identified five contributing psychological characteristics which were a feeling hopeless or helpless, a decrease in positive self-image, loss of gratification with the roles they play in life with others, blending emotions from the past with the present and projecting them on the future, and focusing on and recalling prior memories of when they had wanted to give up. These symptoms became know as the giving-up-given-up complex and became a foundation for the study of the biopsychosocial model and health psychology. People who suffer from these symptoms demonstrated a negative relationship between their biological performances based upon social networks and psychology (Engel, 1968)

The Diathesis-Stress Model is used to help integrate the biological and genetic factors, or nature factors, with the environmental factors, or nurture factors, that are experienced by an individual with the desire to understand why some individuals are more likely to experience stress in a way that contributes to a disease or psychological disorders (Brannon & Feist, 2004). One study by Barrera, Li, and Chassin (1995) used the diathesis-stress model to perform a cross-sectional study on the effects of having an alcoholic parent on two groups of adolescents which were either Hispanic or non-Hispanic Caucasians. The authors had some interesting hypotheses to test such as what effect did being a minority have on stresses assuming that being in a minority group, being in a different culture, or potentially living in a poorer economic group would have in addition to the stress of having an alcoholic parent. The role of family conflict on how stress was absorbed by adolescents was equally important in this study. In their discussion section the authors concluded that Caucasians had more sensitive reactivity to stresses than did their Hispanic counterparts because they were more vulnerable to the life-event of having an alcoholic parent as the Hispanic family culture is more tightly knit in comparison to the Caucasian family and this reduced the Hispanic participants predisposition for stress, when the stress comes from within the family unit.

Of all these models I personally like the biopsychosocial model the best as I feel it incorporates the Psychosocial Theories of Disease and the Diathesis-Stress Model and is the most comprehensive model of the three.

Barrera, M., Li, S. A., & Chassin, L. (1995). Effects of Parental Alcoholism and Life Stress on Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Caucasian Adolescents: A Prospective Study. American Journal of Community Psychology, 23(4), 479+. Retrieved June 7, 2007 from Questia database:

Brannon, L. & Feist, J. (2004). Health psychology: An introduction to behavior and health (5th Ed.). CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Engel, G. (1968). A life setting conducive to illness: The giving-upgiven-up complex. Annals of Internal Medicine, 69(2).

Kendall, E. (2003). Predicting vocational adjustment following traumatic brain injury: A test of a psychosocial theory. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 19(1), 31

Good Psychology - Spirituality, Evolutionary, & Lifespan ...

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October 28th, 2014 at 1:48 am