Health and behavior: The coming together of science and practice in psychology and medicine after a century of benign neglect

Joseph D. Matarazzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


For thousands of years, physicians had available only a few drugs with which to minister to patients and the practice of psychology was an integral and therapeutically powerful component in the practice of medicine. Thus, good "bedside medicine" consisting of empathy, compassion, and a nurturant attitude toward the ill individual was a major component of the physician's armamentarium until relatively recently. However, the explosion in scientific knowledge in biology, physiology, chemistry, and microbiology which began a century ago and has continued through the twentieth century helped produce several generations of physician specialists and subspecialists with little knowledge of the powerful role psychological factors play in health and illness. As a result, practitioners of medicine and practitioners of psychology have had little or no contact during most of this century. However, as advances in microbiology, public health, and nutrition have eradicated many of the infectious diseases, infirmities associated with one's lifestyle have replaced the latter as the major causes of death today. One offshoot of this shift is that after a century of benign neglect, physicians and psychologists have rediscovered a common ground in the arena labeled health and behavior. Some factors responsible for these recent developments are highlighted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-39
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 1994



  • biopsychosocial
  • health psychology
  • specialization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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