Biological Perspectives on Psychiatry for the Person

C. Robert Cloninger, Mahommed T. Abou-Saleh, David A. Mrazek, Hans-Jürgen Möller


The World Psychiatric Association’s Program on Psychiatry for the Person is founded on the World Health Organization’s recognition that health is a state of physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being, rather than merely the absence of disease.  The WHO definition of health indicates a holistic perspective that a human being cannot be reduced to a material body alone.  The whole person is comprised of physical, mental, and spiritual aspects.  What may not be obvious to the casual observer, however, is the fact that each of the three aspects of a person has a distinctive biological basis.  Different biological systems are involved in the regulation of physical processes (e.g., sexuality, digestion, movement), algorithmic mental processes (e.g., emotional expression, language, logical reasoning), and self-aware creativity (e.g., art, science, spirituality). Measures of psychological well-being and ill-being have been shown to be associated with numerous biomarkers, adding to a growing literature indicating that the biological correlates of well-being and ill-being are mostly distinct, rather than opposites extremes of common processes.  Any rigorous understanding of the biological perspective on Psychiatry for the Person must recognize the nature of these distinctive biological processes and their implications for promotion of positive health and for the prevention and treatment of ill health

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