Health can be viewed as the capacity of the organism to regulate its own behaviour and physiology and produce co-ordinated response patterns to challenges. The two systems mediating interaction with the environment, the central nervous and immune systems, communicate with each other and can be thought of as a single integrated system for adaptation and defence. Psychoneuroimmunology is dissolving the dualisms of mind-body, body-environment, and individual-population. In realizing that the states of the medical body are correlated with individual's bodily experience, the philosopher David Levin and the present author have expressed the hope that patients will experience their bodies and themselves in new ways.(45) Somatic awareness is akin to psychological insight, and each has a role in maintenance of physical and mental health. A patient may realize that the body he or she presents for treatment is a body of integrated mental and somatic awareness and of meaningful experience, and is influenced by his or her own sensitivity. Psychoneuroimmunology should help us not only to understand the pathophysiology and psychophysiology of disease in a more systems-theory-oriented way, but also to value the doctor-patient relationship and the patient's own role in recovery from disease and maintenance of health. Thus, psychoneuroimmunology provides a scientific basis for the practice of humanistic medicine.
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