PSYC 328 Health Psychology
CHAPTER 1: WHAT IS HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY?
What is Health Psychology?:
Study of how psychological influences contributes to health, illness, and reaction
•Promote interventions to help people stay well or get over illness.
Scientific, educational, and professional contributions of psychological theory,
practice, and research to health related issues.
WHO, 1948: “A complete state of physical, mental and social well-being and not
merely the absence of diseases and infirmity.”
This state of optimum health is called, “wellness”.
What Health Psychologists Do:
Health promotion and maintenance
Prevention and treatment of illness
Etiology and correlates of health, illness, and dysfunction
•Etiology: Origins or causes of illness
•Health psychologists are interested in the behavioral and social factors that
contribute to health, illness and dysfunction.
Analyze and improve health care system and health policies
•Study the impact of health institutions and health professionals on people’s
Modifiable Factors: Health behaviors can confer resilience or risk for the
development of illness, as well as help people maintain health and manage
Early cultures: prehistoric and ancient Egypt
•Mind and body one unit
•Illness caused by evil spirits and Gods
oThese spirits could be exorcised through the treatment process.
•Trephination: Small holes in skulls, allowed evil spirits to leave the body
while the “physician” or shaman, performed the treatment ritual.
Ancient Greece (460 B.C – 120 A.D):
Proposed “humoral theory of illness”
•First proposed by Hippocrates and later expanded by Galen
•Disease arises when the four circulating fluids of the body, blood, black
bile, yellow bile, and phlegm are out of balance.
oFunction of treatment is to restore balance among the humors.
•Said that disease and illness related to bodily factors but can also impact
PSYC 328 Health Psychology
oSpecific personality types were believed to be associated with
bodily temperaments in which one of the four humors
Middle Ages (500-1450):
Return to supernatural and religious interpretations
•Although Galen’s humoral theory was still widely accepted and practiced,
mysticism and demonology dominated concepts of disease.
Illness was punishment for sins
Priest was central to healing
•Church was the guardian of medical knowledge
•Healing and the practice of religion became indistinguishable.
Renaissance Period: Beginning of the Biomedical Model:
Religious approach less accepted – but body seen as a machine that houses the
Disease usually viewed as result of natural causes
Reemergence of scientific approach
•Descartes doctrine of mind-body dualism
Mind-body became separate
•Physicians looked after the body
•Theologians, philosophers look after the mind
Biomedical Model (Dualistic Approach):
Mind and body as separate
Reliance on physical evidence as only basis for diagnosis and treatment
Continued for 300 years
But: The idea of mind-body link continues on in Literature and proverbs
Darwin, Freud, Cannon contributed to break-down of traditional Biomedical
Conversion Hysteria: Unconscious conflicts can produce physical illness that
symbolizes the repressed psychological conflicts.
•Conflict is converted into physical symptom via the voluntary nervous
system and then the person is free of conflict (e.g. anxiety).
Dunbar and Alexander argued that conflicts produce anxiety, which becomes
unconscious and takes a physiological toll on the body via the autonomic nervous
system, which eventually produces an actual organic disturbance.
Psychosomatic Medicine: Offering profiles of particular disorders believed to be
psychosomatic in origin, bodily disorders caused by emotional conflicts.
PSYC 328 Health Psychology
Relied on subjective, verbal interventions based on psychodynamic perspectives
that did not provide testable hypotheses.
Focuses on objective and clinically relevant interventions that demonstrate the
connections between body and mind suggested by psychosomatic medicine.
Concerned with integrating behavioral science and biomedical science for
understanding physical health and illness and for developing and applying
knowledge and techniques to prevent, diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate.
Emphasize the interrelation of all of the body’s systems, and view illness as a
disharmony between these systems.
Healing is accomplished through techniques and treatments that help to restore
both physical and psychological balance, such as meditation, massage therapy,
acupuncture, herbal remedies, and homeopathy.
Models of Health Care: Biomedical vs. Biopsychosocial:
The Biopsychosocial model (focuses on the system)
•Health and illness are consequences of the interplay of biological,
psychological, and social factors.
•Both macrolevel processes (existence of social support, presence of
depression) and microlevel processes (cellular disorders or chemical
imbalance) interact to produce a state of health or illness.
•Mind and body cannot be distinguished in matters of health and illness
because both clearly influence an individual’s state of health.
•Emphasizes both health and illness
The Biomedical Model (focus on illness)
•All illness can be explained on the basis of aberrant somatic processes.
•Psychological and social processes are independent of the disease.
oReductionistic model: Reduces illnesses to low-level processes
(e.g. disordered cells and chemical imbalances) rather than
recognizing the role of more general social and psychological
oSingle-Factor Model: Explains illness in terms of a biological
malfunction rather than recognizing that a variety of factors may
be responsible for the development of illness.
oMind-body dualism, maintaining that mind and body are separate
oEmphasizes illness over health (focuses on aberrations that lead to
illness rather than on the conditions that might promote health).
How do Biological, Social and Psychological Variables Interact?: