The essential mission of the American Psychosomatic Society is to promote and advance the scientific understanding of the interrelationships among biological, psychological, social and behavioral factors in human health and disease, and the integration of the fields of science that separately examine each, and to foster the application of this understanding in education and improved health care.
The last half of this century has been a time of unprecedented growth in our understanding of human behavior and biology. A fuller description of the biological substrates that promote health or create disease is evolving. These data emerge from new analytic techniques that better assess the spectrum of biobehavioral phenomena from observable human behavior to cellular biology. Such information can illuminate relationships between health and disease, psychology and physiology and thereby suggest new treatment regimens in medicine, psychiatry and psychology. Thus, techniques of observing and analyzing human behavior emanating from and acting upon the fundamental structure and function of cells and tissues are important to our understanding the maintenance of health, in lessening the susceptibility to disease, and in enhancing many treatment regimens in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.
The task of psychosomatic medicine is to understand the nature and mechanisms of behavior and psychosocial encounters that may alter the development of the organism, its structure and its functions. Maladaptations and failure of integration in the interactions between an individual and the environment lead to disabling illnesses. These events require careful study and analysis.
The understanding of these events, provided by psychosomatic research and clinical studies, is an essential ingredient for the comprehensive understanding of human disease in order to lessen the burden of human suffering. The study of these factors and their assimilation into medical teaching and practice are central to the mission of the Society.
PROFESSIONAL INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES OF MEMBERS
The Society is a forum for the discussion of data from any discipline that may enhance our understanding of the complex relationships that have led to a new appreciation of how mind and body interact in the maintenance of health and the causation of disease. This includes: basic studies of brain, behavior and bodily disease relationships; basic and applied psychopharmacological studies; demographic, transcultural and epidemiologic studies of the risk factors and natural history of disease; clinical studies of the risk factors and natural history of disease; and clinical studies derived from insights that emerge from the laboratory, all of which address the biopsychosocial and behavioral interactions that influence adaptive processes. Another important area for investigation is the multiplicity of factors that enter into the physician-patient relationship, and their potential significance. In summary, the Society is dedicated to psychosomatic research in various disciplines and the application of this new knowledge in the education of professionals and the care of patients.
The Annual Meeting in March is an open scientific and clinical forum where investigators from allied disciplines communicate, pool their knowledge, consider problems of conceptual relationships, and develop ideas which will stimulate further research. Typically, the three-day meeting is devoted to the presentation of scientific papers, symposia, workshops, poster sessions, invited lectures and addresses. Roundtable luncheon discussions, as well as business meetings for the Society's membership and Council, and the Journal's editorial board are included. The reception and annual banquet close the meeting on Saturday.
As the official organ of the Society, the purpose of the Journal, Psychosomatic Medicine, is to present experimental and clinical studies dealing with various aspects of the relationships among social, psychological, and behavioral factors and bodily processes in both human and lower animals. It is an international, interdisciplinary journal devoted to experimental and clinical investigation in behavioral biology, including the relationship of experience to bodily functioning, or psychiatry and psychology to clinical medicine, or early experience to later behavior and physiologic function, of behavior to brain function, and of data derived from animal studies to clinical hypotheses, all of which provide a rational basis for understanding and treating complex disease states. The Journal is published six times a year; supplementary issues may contain reports of conferences at which original research was presented in areas relevant to the Society or may consist of monographs.
Membership in the Society includes specialists from all medical and health-related disciplines, the behavioral sciences and the social sciences. There are four categories of membership: Regular, Associate, Emeritus and Corresponding. Applicants must be sponsored by three colleagues. Applicants for Associate Membership whom are students must provide a letter testifying to an interest in psychosomatic medicine from their advisor in lieu of three sponsor letters.
Regular Membership: Scientists in medical, biological, physiological, psychological and sociological disciplines and professionals in cognate fields who teach, practice, or participate in investigations of psychosomatic relationships, and who are qualified representatives of their specialties, are eligible for consideration for membership. Ordinarily, applicants will hold the highest degree appropriate to their discipline and will be active in postgraduate work in the psychosomatic field. In exceptional circumstances, evidence of unusual contributions to the field will be acceptable in lieu of these requirements. Dues include a subscription to the Journal.
Associate Membership: Associate membership is available to individuals enrolled in medical, graduate or undergraduate school. Such persons become eligible for promotion to full membership at the completion of their degree/training program. They have all rights and privileges of regular members with the exception of holding office. Dues are set at a reduced rate.
Emeritus Membership: Emeritus membership is available to regular members of the Society when they have been a member for at least 10 years and reached the age of 65, or earlier where circumstances such as retirement or illness may merit such action.
Corresponding Membership: Corresponding membership may be extended to outstanding leaders in the study of psychosomatic relationships in developing countries.
The affairs of the Society are governed by a Council of 17 members, seven of whom are ex-officio, 3 elected annually, thirteen of whom are elective, serving three-year terms, and one elected for a two year term. The ex-officio members are: the President, the President-elect, the Secretary-Treasurer, the outgoing President, the Journal's Editor-in-Chief, the Program Committee Chair and the Newsletter Editor. The elected members are chosen to provide appropriate representation to the following fields: internal medicine; psychiatry; pediatrics; neuro-anatomy; physiological sciences, neurophysiology and psychophysiology; psychology; clinical psychology, sociology; anthropology; and public health.
HISTORY OF THE SOCIETY
Inception: The American Psychosomatic Society grew from a desire among several academicians, practitioners and foundations to link developments in psychology and psychiatry to internal medicine, physiology and other disciplines.
In 1936, Mrs. Kate Macy Ladd, the philanthropist and founder of the Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation, directed the Foundation to provide support for the fledgling field of psychosomatic investigation. The initial project, undertaken by the New York Academy of Medicine's joint committee on Religion and Medicine, was to assemble a bibliography of the "psychosomatic" medical literature, 1910-1933, together with publications examining the relationship of religion to health. The task was undertaken by Dr. Helen Flanders Dunbar, director of the joint committee. The first volume was published in 1935 as "Emotions and Bodily Changes." Two further revisions brought the literature survey up to 1945.
Journal: With further financial assistance from the Macy Foundation, the National Research Council's Division of Anthropology and Psychology, Committee on Problems of Neurotic Behavior began publication of the journal, "Psychosomatic Medicine," in an effort to encourage collaboration among the medical specialties, psychology and the social sciences. The Journal's first issue appeared in 1939 under the editorship of Dr. Dunbar. Thereafter, research in the field expanded rapidly, but there was no permanent forum other than the Journal for the exchange of data and ideas. Accordingly, in December 1942, the advisory board of the Journal voted to establish the "American Society for Research in Psychosomatic Problems."
Subsequent editors of the Journal were Drs. Carol Binger, Morton F. Reiser, Herbert Weiner, Donald Oken and Joel Dimsdale.
Society Founders: Gathered together at the organizing meeting were representatives of the several centers where psychosomatic research was under way, including Drs. George Daniels, George Draper and Helen Dunbar, Columbia-Presbyterian; Drs. Stanley Cobb, Hallowell Davis, Alexander Forbes, Walter B. Cannon and Eric Lindeman from Harvard; Dr. Harold G. Wolff and his group at Cornell-New York Hospital; and the group from Temple University in Philadelphia under Dr. Edward Weiss who, with Dr. O. Spurgeon English, delineated the "field" in 1943 in their textbook, Psychosomatic Medicine.