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Matalon, A. Mathiesen, T. (2019). Balint Matters: Psychosomatics and the Art of Assessment by Jonathan Sklar (London: Karnac Books, 2017; 232 pp.). Psychoanal. Hist., 21(2):240-244.

(2019). Psychoanalysis and History, 21(2):240-244

Balint Matters: Psychosomatics and the Art of Assessment by Jonathan Sklar (London: Karnac Books, 2017; 232 pp.)

Review by:
Andre Matalon

Tove Mathiesen

In the contemporary medical world, dominated as it is by evidence based medicine, clinical guidelines, management targets, and the monitoring of ‘quality measures’ in the treatment of disease, there remains very little space for practising the art of medicine and person-centred care. But understanding the experience of individual illness, the individual subjectivity of each person and the unconscious meaning of symptoms are the most important components of a correct diagnosis which will eventually lead to recovery and a sense of healing after a medical intervention. Person-centred medicine is, in addition, the approach to patient care that can determine professional satisfaction and provide a distinction between a good doctor and a real healer.

The classic role of medicine in the past - and which remains so in the present - has been the treatment of human suffering, from its prevention, through its treatment, to the rehabilitation and the return of the patient to functioning, including helping him or her to gain a sense of well-being. In an article published in Science as early as 1977, George Engel (1977) argued that in order to understand and respond to human suffering, doctors must relate to its biological, psychological and social components. Family medicine adopted the bio-psychosocial model because this model enabled the application of a holistic approach to human suffering, an approach that matched the field and scope of this branch of the medical profession (McWhinney, 1969).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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