Integrated approach (was - grad programs)

Alan J. Robinson robin073 at
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 
be revolutionary.    

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 
Press 1991.



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