Historical Perspective

  • Michael Feuerstein
  • Elise E. Labbé
  • Andrzej R. Kuczmierczyk


Holistic conceptions of health and disease can be traced to Oriental physicians around 2600 b.c. and Greek physicians, particularly of the Hippocratic school, around 500 b.c. Good habits and the avoidance of excesses were considered essential for good health. It was also realized that individuals have some control over their health, instead of emphasizing magical thinking or blaming the gods for illness. The physician was seen as a guide, helping the patient restore a natural balance, physical and emotional. For the ancient Greeks, health was thought of as a harmonious mixture of the humors (blood, phlegm, choler, melancholy [yellow or blackbile]) and disease was considered a disharmonious mixture. It is noteworthy that with our increasing communication with Oriental and Eastern Indian cultures over the past two decades, we have become interested in the health practices and theories of these cultures. Acupuncture, biofeedback, self-hypnosis, and autogenic training represent some of the practices that have arisen from the holistic approach to health care and are currently considered useful adjuncts to the treatment of certain health problems in our Western culture (e.g., stress-related medical disorders and pain).


Health Psychology Historical Perspective Biomedical Model Physical Disorder Autogenic Training 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Feuerstein
    • 1
  • Elise E. Labbé
    • 2
  • Andrzej R. Kuczmierczyk
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Rochester School of Medicine and DentistryRochesterUSA
  2. 2.University of Miami School of MedicineMiamiUSA

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