Definition

Psychoneuroimmunology is the transdisciplinary scientific field concerned with interactions between brain (mind/behaviour) and the immune system and their clinical implications/1..) Psychoneuroimmunology, or PNI, is the term coined by Robert Ader in the latter 1970s, but the field is also known by the equally ponderous terms neuroimmunomodualtion and, less commonly, neuroendocrinimmunology or behavioural immunology. Its clinical aspects range from an understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying the influence of psychosocial factors on the onset and course of immunologically resisted and mediated diseases to an understanding of immunologically generated psychiatric symptoms. Its basic science aspects involve understanding the complex interaction of neuroendocrine and immunologically generated networks in maintaining health and combating disease. Psychoneuroimmunology may provide a basis for understanding the biological basis of humanistic medicine and of alternative or complimentary medical techniques, and offers the hope of developing new non-linear models of health and disease.

By its very nature, psychoneuroimmunology bridges the traditional disciplines of psychiatry, psychology, neurology, endocrinology, immunology, neuroscience, internal medicine, and even surgery (wound healing). Interdisciplinary collaboration is generally essential and intrinsic to its research. The field is rapidly growing, as evidenced by the 14 chapters of the first edition of the major textbook Psychoneuroimmunology, the 46 chapters of the second edition in 1991,(2) and the anticipated 80 chapters of the three-volume third edition in preparation at the time of writing.

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