YEAR     INDIVIDUAL      Belief

                 Aristotle                  De Anima: “Probably all the affections of the soul are associated with the body—anger, gentleness, fear, pity, courage and joy, as well as love and hating; for when they appear, the body is also affected. . . . [C]learly the affections of the soul are ideas expressed in matter.  Their definition therefore must be in harmony with this. . .”

1637     Rene Descartes  (1596-1650) Discourse on the mind   “Je pense donc je suis.”   

“Parallelism” theory:  the mind and body are distinct from one another, but capable of reacting upon each other.

L1600s    Raymond Vieussens  — the mind can influence the vascular system and thereby cause disease.


Thomas Sydenham      The four humours and passion cause disease.  Two thirds of the most common diseases are fevers, the other third are cases of “hysteric passion.”   For gout, thought processes alone could bring on symptoms.

1776     Franz Anton Mesmer              The energy of the Universe (therefore astrological force) influences us; this energy can be harnassed by our thought processes and directed to others through the power of suggestion.

1783      Mesmer       Paris physicians support Mesmer’s claim; sends diplomats around the world to spread this philosophy.

1790    Benjamin Rush          “passions” dictate certain diseases

1796     William Falconer         The Influence of the Passions upon the Disorders of the Body. (London: C. Dilly)

Dr. Elisha Perkins                    Connecticut. 1796-1804/6.  A galvanic method for curing disease was developed.  Perkins made use of metal tractors consisting of brass, iron and zinc.  This could be interpreted as an extension of Mesmer’s animal magnetism theory of disease, developed into a galvanism-based theory.

1800     J. R. Park                                emotions and the Sympathetic nervous system are noted

Dr. John Haygarth                   On the Imagination, as a Cause and as  a Cure of the Disorders of the Body (Bath: R. Crutwell, 1800).  Perkins’ claims and successes in treatment are explained in regular medical journals as due to “ the imagination as a cause and as a cure for diseases of the body”  (Haygarth, 1800, in Stainbrook, 1952)

1802     Xavier Bichat                          Anatomie Generale, Appliquee a la Physiologie et a la Medicine.  (Paris: Brossow, Gabon, et Cie, 1802).  Sensibility and contractility are fundamental physiological phenomena which can be used to help define two divisions of the nervous system—the brain and the “visceral ganglionic system.” A prelude to the notion of unconscious behavior is defined –i.e. the existence of purely organic sensibility happening without need for conscious perception or sensation. 

Cancer.  An early rendering of the psychosomatic cause for “scirrhous tumors” is provided: “the keen impression felt at the pylorus in violent emotions, the indelible trace of them which this organ sometimes retains, and whence originate the scirrhous tumors of which it is the seat” (Stainbrook, 1952). 

1806     Reil and Hoffbauer                 Germany.  The first medico-psychological journal published.

1810    S. C. Lucae                              Observationes Anatomicae circa Nervos Arterios Adeuntes et ComitantesFrankfurt.  Due to the increase in heart, lung and stomach disorders noted during the French Revolution, Lucae proposed his theory and revived an older theory by Vieussens (L1600s) regarding the influence of nerves on the blood vessels, which ultimately became accepted (Stainbrook, 1952).

1810    William Cullen                         Cullen reclassified the diseases, deriving his classification from those of Linneaus and Sauvages.  Cullen supported Brown’s nervous system theory for disease; he defines “Nervous excitement” (neurosis) as a cause for illness.  “Reflex irritation” became the commonly proscribed causality (ibid).

1818     Christian Friedrich Nasse (1778-1851)

Zeitschrift fur psychische Aertze began publication.  As a medical physiologist, Nasse claimed physiological [animal] economy relates to mental state, esp. mental illness.  He believed that the core body (inner stomach) temperature predicted the vitality of patients and developed the thanatometer (‘death measurer”) to record this.

1826     Sir Astley P. Cooper               Cancer.  The Lectures of Sir Astley Cooper on the Principles and Practice of Surgery.  By Frederick Tyrrel.  Philadelphia: A. Sherman.   Noted an association between the development of carcinoma of the rectum and “mental distress.”  “I should have observed that one of the most frequent causes of breast cancer is grief or anxiety of the mind. . . . It arrests the progress of secretion, produces irritative fever, and becomes the forerunner of scirrhous tubercle. . . The mind acts on the body, the secretions are arrested, and the result is the formation of scirrhous.  Look then in this complaint, not only at altering the state of the constitution, but relieve the mind, and remove if possible the anxiety under which the patient labors” (Stainbrook, 1952).

1833     Marshall Hall                          Reflex action and “excito-motor acts.” Defined.  When nerves are irritated, movements in musculature result which are independent of sensation or volition.  This became the basis for accepting the possibility of  “unconscious excito-motor acts.”

1836     Sir Benjamin C. Brodie           Pathological and Surgical Observations of the Diseases of the Joints. (London: Longman, 1836).  Defined “Brodie’s Knee” a syndrome consisting of a joint disease associated with the development of “hysteria”; the arthritis is a consequence of the nervous disorder.

1838     Jacobi (1775-1858)                First published use of “somatic-psychic” as a medical term?  Along with Nassi, Jacobi initiated publication of Zeitschrift furdie Beurteilung und Heilung der krankhaften Seelenzustande; only one volume was published, which included the article  “Further discussions of the foundation of somato-psychic medicine.”  The term “mental disease” began to be replaced by “mental disturbance.”  (Zilboorg, 1943)

1838    Ernst von Feuchtersleben (1806-1849)

Zur Diatetik der Seele,  a popular book on diet and “mental hygiene” (Translated as Medical Psychology by The Sydenham Society, London, 1847).  He claimed psychological factors are of greater value than apothecary formulas and that fear and “horror” were the causes for many maladies (i.e. enuresis, diarrhea, discharges and eruptions), by facilitating the entrance of miasma into the body, and/or by facilitating the onset of more severe forms of illness (Zilboorg, 1943; Stainbrook, 1952).

1839    John Baptista Friedrich (1796-1862)

               Handbuch der allgemeinen Pathologie der psychischen Krankheiten.  (argues the somatology of all disease: “Every mentally ill person is physically ill” (see Zilboorg 1943)            

1839    Forbes Winslow                       Asthma.  The mind causes asthma

1840s   Ernst von Feuchtersleben (1806-1849)

1842–introduced a course on “Mental Disease” to Austria’s medical school. 

1845—published textbook on this in English, French, Dutch and Russian, in which he discussed the “psychophysical totality of man”, i.e. “Whenever abnormal psychic manifestations are present, we deal with a mental disease.  It has its root in the psyche in so far as the latter uses the sense organs; it is also rooted in the body in so far as the latter is the organ of the psyche.”  Every psychosis (“mental disease”) is a neurosis (“psychic change” expressing itself through the nerves), but not vice versa.  (Zilboorg, 1943)

1843    James Braid                             Neurohypnology (1843) (Hypnotism and science)

1845     Griesinger (1817-1868)          “mental disease is brain disease”;  “cerebral reflexes” are the cause.  The terms “Nervous” “Psychic” and “Mental” are interchangeable for categorizing disease.  [see Tuckey 1888]

1846    Ochorowicz        The Power of the Mind over the Body (1846)  [see Tuckey 1888]

1850s     Claude Bernard, Brown-Sequard, Donders, and Kussmaul

Physio.  Demonstrated vasodilation/vasoconstriction influences could be generated through sensory stimuli and temperature change.  The nerve is galvanized by Brown-Sequard.  These and other physiological observations begin to draw the mind-psyche concept back in synch with the brain as a physical entity.  This transition in philosophies would not be complete for another twenty-five years.

1850     Dendy                                     Emotions.  The mind-body effect is due to:

1)       joy greatly influencing spirituality,

2)       emotion influencing nervous activity,

3)       “true love” as the antidote to passion.

1858     Brown-Sequard                       CNS.  Physiology and Pathology of the Nervous Centers, speech delivered in London.  Reflex neurosis defined (see 1810 note on Cullen).

1860     Thomas Laycock                    Mind and Brain: or, The Correlations of Consciousness and Organization.  Edinburgh: Sutherland and Knox.  A reflex action-Cerebral activity relationship is discussed.

1867     J. H. Denny                            “Mental Toxicology”/Pre-Freudian teachings.  Boston Medical and Surgical Journal 76: 243.  Theory of autointoxication for disease: sexual dysfunction, metabolic disturbance and mental disease onset are related.  “[The] toxical agency of mind acting through the cerebro-spinal system as a mental irritant poison” causes disease; sexual desire was considered to be “an acute mental neurotic poison.” (Denny, 1867, in Stainbrook, 1952).

1871/2     D. Hack Tuke.                     Illustrations of the Influence of the Mind upon the Body in Health and Disease, Designed to Elucidate the Action of the ImaginationJournal of Mental Science (1871) 17: 153; 18: 8 (1872), also published by London: J. and A. Churchill (1872).  The force of the mind versus that of the nerve is at play in causing disease: “The conclusion is being forced on us that there may be (psychopathological) cases in which no change takes place in the brain which the ablest microscopist is likely to detect, but a dynamic change—one more or less temporary, in the relative functional power of different cerebral centers, involving loss or excess of inhibition.”

Late 1800s

German psychophysiologists demonstrate mind-body influences and help promote further the notions of psychosomatic disease.  Wilhelm Wundt, Gent, Mosso, Kiesow, Binet, and Ernst Weber demonstrate relations between emotions, pulse activity and blood pressure.   Mosso demonstrated the relationship between distal (forearm, wrist, hands) circulation and emotion, relating vasoconstriction to psychological response to sounds, other stimuli, and hypnosis.  Tanzi related temperature changes in distal tissue to variations in thought and feeling.

1878    Henry Simpson                  “Imagination” can cause disease

1883    D. A. Gorton                           Prayer-induced cures are “faith cures”

1886    Probst                                      “Cure by imagination

(disease/cure stages: sensory, emotional, expectational, imaginative (imagery))

              Mitchell                                 Psycho-inhibitory or psycho-motor cures are possible

1888      Fere                                       Societe de Biologie report.  A physiological response in the form of sweat could demonstrated as having physiological and emotional causes.  

1890     Tarchanoff                       Published studies on Fere’s findings and termed the response the psychogalvanic reflex.  Corroborated 1897 by Sticker.

1896     Sigmund Freud              Defines anxiety neurosis, a specific variation of the neurasthenia problem commonly diagnosed.  Freud blamed these conditions of biochemically-conditioned pathways in the brain, due to an accumulation of sexual excitation. 

1897     Parker                                   “Theory of Belief” 

(Stages: stimulation, excitement, repetition of event, growing familiarity, mental acquiescence, clear conception, miracle.)

E1900s            Schofield                Conscious & subconscious mind influences; mentions autonomic nerves, the emotions, and the body, helping define reasons for mystical cures and faith healing.

C. A. Strong. Why the Mind has a Body (NY: MacMillan, 1903)

L1940s                        Weiss and English;

Slaughter                      Psychosomatic Disease

1960s       Hans Selye            Stress-induced Disease

L1970s/e1980s            Ader et al.                    Psychoneuroimmunology (Enkephalins/Endorphins)

                        Cheren                         Psychosomatic Medicine

                        Hafen, et al.                 Psychosocial/Psychobiological models



Ader, Robert, David L. Felten, and Nicholas Cohen (eds.).  (1991.)  Psychoneuroimmunology.  New York: Academic Press.

Allen, N. H.  (1839)  The Effects of Mental Emotions in Producing Asthma and Dyspnoea in General.  The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal 21(3): 42-46.

Bradley, J. M.  (1906)  Healing by Faith, discussed from the standpoint of a Physician. St. Louis Interstate Medical Journal 13: 946-950.

Cheren, Stanley.  (1989)  Psychosomatic Medicine (2 vols.)  IUP Stress and Health Series Monograph 1.  Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc.

Dendy, W. C.  (1853)  Psychotherapeia, or, the Remedial Influence of Mind.  The Journal of Psychological Medicine and Mental Pathology 6: 268-274.

Gorton, D. A.  (1883)  Cure by Faith.  New York Medical Times 11(6): 161-164.

Hafen, Brent Q., Keith J. Karren, Kathryn J. Frandsen, and N. Lee Smith.  (1996)  Mind/Body Health.  The Effects of Attitudes, Emotions, and Relationships.  Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Herrick, C. L. (1904)  Recent Contributions to the Body-Mind Controversy.  The Journal of Comparative Neurology and Psychology 14: 421-431. 

Harrington, D. W.  (1909)  Mind and Medicine.  American Medicine 4(11): 556-561.

Mercier, Alfred (1857)  On the Influence of the Mind on the Origin, Course and Termination of the Diseases of the Body.  The New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal 14: 25-32.

Mitchell, L. C.  (1885)  The Influence of Mind in Disease.  Northwestern Lancet 5(2): 21-28.

Mitchell, L. C.  (1886)  Mind or Faith Cure.  Northwestern Lancet (St. Paul, Minn.) 5: 401-406.

Park, J. R.  (1818)  On the Influence of Mental Impressions in Producing Changes of Function in the Living Body.  The Journal of Science and the Arts 4: 207-226.

Parker, W. B.  (1897) The Psychology of belief.  The Popular Science Monthly 51: 747-755.

Probst, C. O.  (1886)  The Physical Action of Mental Forces; or the Action of the Mind on Body.  Columbus Medical Journal 4(9): 385-397.

Simpson, Henry  (1878)  How the Body may be Influenced by the Mind in Sickness and Health. Manchester Health Lectures for the People (London). 2: 35-56.

Slaughter, Frank G.  (1947)  The New Way to Mental and Physical Health.  The Story of Psychosomatic Medicine.  New York: Grosset & Dunlap, Inc.

Tuckey, C. Lloyd (1888) Faith Healing as a Medical Treatment.  The Nineteenth Century  24: 839-850.

Webber, N. W.  (1876)  Influence of the Mind Upon the Body.  Detroit Review of Medicine and Pharmacy 11(7): 467-474.

Weiss, Edward, and O. Spurgeon English (1943)  Psychosomatic Medicine.  New York: W. B. Saunders.

Winslow, Forbes  (1839)  Influence of the Mind on Disease.  London Medical Gazette 2: 164-171.

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