Holistic psychiatry focuses on understanding the interaction of physical, mental and social factors that determine the state of patients. Taking into account biological, psychological, social and functional characteristics makes the diagnostic process more comprehensive.

What is holism?

Holism or the “philosophy of integrity” was developed by the South African philosopher J. Smuts. He introduced the term “holism” in 1926. Today, holism is understood as an approach that considers the whole personality, not its certain constituent parts.

The holistic approach in psychiatry considers three global factors, such as  biological, psychological and social, in the emergence and development of psychopathology

Diagnostics in holistic psychiatry

A diagnostic procedure should include setting the following diagnoses: biological, psychological, and social.

Biological diagnosis is based on:

1. Genetic factors (hereditarily determine the likelihood of disease)

2. Organic factors 

3. Immune-endocrine factors.

Psychological diagnosis is the result of studying various aspects of the personality in order to identify the unique psychological characteristics of the patient, identify the clinical and psychological structure of their disorder and the potential for their recovery. 

And for the analysis of the psychological resources of the patient, the following parameters should be investigated: 

1) Features of the personality structure; 

2) The presence and nature of intrapsychic conflicts; 

3) Features of personal adaptive-compensatory formations (forms of psychological defense, coping mechanisms, internal picture of the disease).

Social diagnosis

Rehabilitation of patients is also understood as their resocialization, or more complete recovery of their individual and social value, personal and social status.

Social diagnosis includes the characteristics of the social competence and external social resources of the individual.

Social competence is the individual’s potential for effective interaction with the social environment. The most significant factors, reflecting the social competence are the following: 

a) Features of social status (in the premorbid period and at the present time);

b) Presence and features of interpersonal conflicts in the family, at work, and other areas of life.

External social resources, reflected in the social diagnosis, relate to the characteristics of the so-called “social support” – the family and the non-family environment.

Wrapping up

Considering the unity and interaction of biological, psychological and social factors in the development and dynamics of mental diseases, or in other words following the holistic approach,  enables a true understanding of the essence of human diseases.

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