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Rubins, J.L. (1961). Introduction à la Médecine Psychosomatique (Introduction to Psychosomatic Medicine). Medard Boss. Presses Universitaires, Paris, 1959.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21(2):280-282.

(1961). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 21(2):280-282

Book Reviews

Introduction à la Médecine Psychosomatique (Introduction to Psychosomatic Medicine). Medard Boss. Presses Universitaires, Paris, 1959.

Review by:
Jack L. Rubins, M.D.

This book is a recent translation of the German edition which first appeared in 1954, and which unfortunately has not yet been translated into English. Dr. Boss is well known as one of the foremost existentialist psychiatrists in Europe today. In this work he attempts to apply existentialist concepts to the clinical observations of patients with different psychosomatic syndromes.

In his introduction the author stresses his dissatisfaction with the term “psychosomatic” as implying a mind-body duality; he wishes to present a new viewpoint as “revealed by the total aspect of human existence, in which all physical and psychic phenomena are fused.”

He strongly criticizes the “esprit technique” or mechanistic-organic approach, in medicine as well as in psychiatry. He tries to prove that in traditional medicine concepts of psychopathological causality are entirely inadequate. For instance, an anatomic brain lesion can in no way “explain” the psychic symptoms, such as hallucinations or dementia, which occur along with it. Likewise, in traditional psycho-dynamics he disagrees with the various etiological concepts which unite psychic phenomena with somatic symptoms as cause-effect. He includes the classical Freudian notion of transformation of psychic energy; Alexander's concept, which sees emotional processes as the “subjective reflection” of physiological states, and the various unitary-process concepts which see the emotional and the somatic as “expressions” of some common dynamic vital process.

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