A Scholar Who Cannot See the Woods for the Trees: The Biopsychosocial Model as the Scientific Basis for the Psychosomatic Approach

Henricus van de Wiel, K.M. Paarlberg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterProfessional


The International Society for Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology (ISPOG) advocates a broad approach to O&G as a discipline. In this context breadth means paying attention to the role played by biological, psychological, and social factors in the illness and health of gynecological patients. This broad perspective is in contrast with the biomedical model, which is common in Western medicine; the biomedical model is first and foremost a depth perspective, which reduces illness to a problem in underlying biological processes. George L. Engel coined the term “biopsychosocial model” (BPS model) in 1977 to refer to a combination of zooming both in and out in relation to health issues. The BPS model is a way of thinking that helps to understand complex health problems and complaints without ignoring the influence and importance of biomedical, personal, and social factors. In principle, in this book we use the BPS model as a point of departure. The advantage of working with the BPS model is that you not only find out how things work—the depth perspective—but also gain an understanding of the meaning of a certain complaint or symptom, why a certain phenomenon exists. In this chapter we will take a closer look at the incongruence between the breadth perspective and the depth perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBio-Psycho-Social Obstetrics and Gynecology
Subtitle of host publicationA Competency-Oriented Approach
EditorsKM Paarlberg, HBM van de Wiel
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-40404-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-40402-8
Publication statusPublished - 21-Feb-2017

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