Bmj Usa: Editor's Choice

Mind over matter

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 19 November 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:E128

From BMJ USA 2002;August:421

Medicine perpetuates a dichotomy between the mind and “organic” disease, but by now we should know better. Clinicians recognize the role of psychology, emotions, and mental illness in countless physical complaints—back pain, headache, and fatigue to name a few. They know that it is smarter to address these root causes than to order x rays and blood tests. More often than not, these tests generate normal or false-positive results and do little to confront the real problem.

Yet the mind gets little attention in practice (except when patients present with overt symptoms of depression, anxiety, or confusion). The subtle psychological ferment behind chief complaints is often unexplored. …

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