Date of Award
Dr. Kenneth S. Moxey
The term psychosomatic is derived from two Greek words, "psyche" meaning mind and "soma" meaning body. The concept embodies the principle that the mind is closely integrated with the body, that they are inseparable. A psychosomatic illness, therefore, is an illness that has its foundations in the mind but is manifested or has its symptoms in the body. It is important to realize that these illnesses are not merely in the rampant imagination of the sick person's mind. They are very real and often painful organic disorders. The distinguishing factor in psychosomatics is that they are precipitated, to a major degree, by emotional disturbances and not merely by physical disorders. Therefore, emotional maladjustments lead to chronic dysfunctioning of some organ system of the body. This definition would seem to include almost all physical disorders that have anything at all to do with both the mind and the body. There are, however, two limiting factors. First, as has been mentioned, the primary cause of the illness is a chronic emotional maladjustment and the physical disorder is a by product of it. Somatopsychic is a term that is used when just the revers is true. A head injury that causes neural damage is an example of a somatopsychic disorder. Encephalitis is another. Secondly, the organs that are involved must be controlled by the autonomic nervous system of the body. This second factor eliminates disorders such as psychasthenia and hysteria which are caused by stimuli carried through the central nervous system and are called neurosis.
Claybrook, C. David, "Psychosomatic Disorders" (1967). Honors Theses. 569.