George Engles and medical thinking and models

Via Alternet, Andrew Weil pays homage to a little known but profound man, George Engles, who decades ago in 1977 proposed thinking differently on the medical model common to the US practices.

I want you to consider the possibility that the basic assumptions of mainstream psychiatric medicine are obsolete and no longer serve us well. Those assumptions constitute the biomedical model of mental health and dominate the whole field.

In 1977, the journal Science published a provocative article titled “The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biomedicine.” I consider it a landmark in medical philosophy and the intellectual foundation of today’s integrative medicine. The author, George L. Engel, M.D., was a professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester (New York) School of Medicine. Determined to overcome the limiting influence of Cartesian dualism, which assigns mind and body to separate realms, Engel envisioned medical students of the future learning that health and illness result from an interaction of biological, psychological, social, and behavioral factors, not from biological factors alone. He fathered the field of psychosomatic medicine and devoted much of his career to broadening our understanding of disease. He was particularly interested in mental health.

George Engel died in 1999 with his vision largely unrealized. In fact, the field of psychosomatic medicine ran out of steam sometime before his death and was never able to challenge the ascendancy of biological medicine.

Ah well….I will be losing electricity shortly and this note will have to suffice for now.   Anyway, a much younger Mrs. Rdan was part of this team at the University of Rochester in the early seventies….good to see the name George Engles again.