Asthma is a physical, not an emotional, illness. Its primary treatment must be medical. However, psychological factors influence the frequency, severity, and impact of asthma, and must be attended to if the result of medical care is to be optimal. Physicians often neglect this fact, perhaps because they have been disappointed by “psychosomatic” theories and therapies that are based upon the misconception that asthma is caused, rather than influenced, by psychological factors (see Weiss, 1974, for a critical evaluation of such theories). However, the opportunity exists to put that neglect behind us. Behaviorally based approaches (e.g., Creer, 1979; Weiss, 1983; and see Chapter 13)—that recognize the physical basis of asthma and work to reduce the negative effect of psychological variables—have been successful in reducing the severity of asthma and its impact in many patients. The purpose of this chapter is to introduce clinicians to the behavioral approach. I will introduce the reader to basic facts about asthma and its symptoms; discuss how psychological variables can affect its course; describe how to probe for such variables; suggest how to target them for treatment; and outline what I consider to be the basic goals for behavioral intervention in asthma.


Early Warning Sign Core Problem Status Asthmaticus Sodium Cromolyn Behavioral Management 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan H. Weiss
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, New York HospitalCornell University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA

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