From causation to correlation: The story of Psychosomatic Medicine 1939-1979

Nissim Mizrachi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This study focuses on the first four decades in the history of the pioneering journal Psychosomatic Medicine. The goal of the journal as stated by its founders was to reform medicine by scientifically reintegrating the "mind" into medicine. However, from its inception, the editorial members were haunted by internal ambiguity regarding the nature of psychosomatic knowledge. This led to recurrent identity crises. This study tells the story of the complex interplay between internal and external forces shaping Psychosomatic Medicine's institutional transitions and epistemological transformations. It demonstrates how, despite this continuous internal confusion, the level of consistency necessary for gaining legitimacy increased during the process of evaluating papers. The increased level of standardization coincided with a transition in the psychosomatic movement's epistemological approach: from causation to correlation. The initial attempt to search for causal mechanisms linking the psyche and the soma were replaced by correlational models measuring various manifestations of psychological and biological phenomena in a way that presupposed and reduplicated the split the founders ironically sought to supersede.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-343
Number of pages27
JournalCulture, Medicine and Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2001


FundersFunder number
Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation


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