Medical Definition of Psychoimmunology

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Psychoimmunology: The study of the connections between the mind and the immune system.

The basic concept of psychoimmunology is the concept that the mind and body are inseparable. It follows that stress affects the body's ability to resist disease. The brain influences all sorts of physiological processes once thought not to be centrally regulated. There are effects of psychological factors on many diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Among the pioneers of this field were Dr. George Engel at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and Dr. George F. Solomon of Harvard Medical School. The field is sometimes called psychoneuroimmunology. It is part and parcel of psychosomatic medicine.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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