Integrated approach (was - grad programs)
Alan J. Robinson
robin073 at maroon.tc.umn.edu
Sun Dec 24 08:17:16 EST 1995
Re some recent messages concerning integrated approaches to studying
the brain, I wanted to give an example of a successful integrated
approach. While it is obviously heavily based on neuroscience in
some areas, it goes far beyond neuroscience.
This approach has gone from explaining why some psychiatric patients
have so many apparent physical symptoms (somatization - a subject
that interested Freud early on) to an overall theory of personality
and its relationship to psychiatric disorders. Furthermore it is now
showing the way to "the astonishing hypothesis" that many important
physical diseases originate in the brain as a result of dysregulation
of the body's defense and repair mechanisms (possibly even cancer and
The brain's central role as the processor and coordinator of the
body's response to all threats to the body's survival are also
becoming apparent. The key evolutionary pressure would be an
unsuccessful attack by a predator that results in an infected
penetrating bite wound with extensive blood loss. Humans rarely face
this type of threat today, but all mammals reflect this evolutionary
Evolutionary or "Darwinian" medicine is just beginning to emerge as a
discipline - the ultimate impact on science and medicine promises to
An introductory reading list follows. Remember - this "page" is
still under construction, as they say on the Internet. Some of the
most basic scientific details are still being filled in - it was just
this last month that reports on the specific mechanisms underlying the
"flight or fight" response and glucocorticoid suppression of immunity
appeared in Science. Many more details will be filled in as a result
of the Human Genome Project.
AAAS. Genetics and behavior [special issue]. Science 264 (Jun 17)
GP Chrousos and PW Gold. The concepts of stress and stress system
disorders: overview of physical and behavioral homeostasis. JAMA
267(9): 1244-1252 1992.
CR Cloninger. Neurogenetic adaptive mechanisms in alcoholism.
Science 230:410-416 1987.
CR Cloninger. A unified biosocial theory of personality and its
role in the development of anxiety states: a reply to
commentaries. Psychiatric Developments 6(2):83-120 1988.
J Oppenheim. "Shattered nerves": doctors, patients and depression in
Victorian England. Oxford University Press 1991.
NJ Rothwell and F Berkenbosch eds. Brain control of responses to
trauma. Cambridge University Press 1994.
M Zuckerman. Psychobiology of personality. Cambridge University
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