Psychosomatic Psychiatry in Spain: Historical Notes and the State of the Art

  • Antonio LoboEmail author
  • Jordi Blanch
  • Ricardo Campos
  • Josep M. Farré
  • Ignacio Gómez-Reino
  • Elena Lobo
  • Juan Carlos Marco
  • José Manuel Menchón
  • Mercedes Navío
  • Gemma Parramón
  • Tirso Ventura


This chapter reviews the important historical background of what we call in Spain Psychosomatic Psychiatry (PP), or Psychosomatic and Liaison Psychiatry (PLP). Both medical humanism and empirical, or evidence based science are crucial philosophical ingredients in present day developments. Different theories born in other countries are also apparent, and include the so called “anthropological” medicine, or the “cortico-visceral” medical models. In the approach to medical patients, the Johns Hopkins “perspectives” are prominent. Among the current dominant trends, the influence of the American, consultation-liaison (C-L) model has been crucial. However, the implant of psychiatric services in all general hospitals of the National Health Service (NHS) was decisive to make available the C-L activities. The chapter also reviews some early research movements in the field, the foundation of a specialized journal and the role of national associations. The chapter highlights the notable development of the discipline, since a recent national enquiry shows that close to 60% of NHS hospitals in Spain have a PLP Unit; the advances in education, the crucial one being the mandatory rotation in PLPU’s in the official, national training program in Psychiatry; and the vigorous teaching of psychiatry directed to general physicians in medical schools. Important research initiatives include the organization of National Networks, which have recruited research groups publishing systematically in international, high impact journals. Specific areas of PLP interest in this country are related to Primary Care, Medical Ethics, Psycho-Oncology and Medical Sexology, all of them with qualified representatives. The discipline aims at an eventual, official sub-specialization in Psychiatry. In this background, it has been argued that the future will depend fundamentally on the vision and compromise of the psychiatric Services and Departments; on the commitment and leadership of the psychiatrists; and, certainly, on the advances in research and innovation.


Psychosomatic psychiatry Philosophy Johns Hopkins’ “perspectives” Consultation-liaison model Training Teaching Research Development Spain Psychosomatic and liaison psychiatry Historical roots Current trends Research networks Education 


Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this chapter.


Supported by Grants from the Fondo de Investigación Sanitaria, Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISC III), Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, Madrid, and Gobierno de Aragón/ Programa Operativo Fondo Social Europeo.

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio Lobo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Jordi Blanch
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Ricardo Campos
    • 2
    • 7
    • 8
    • 9
  • Josep M. Farré
    • 10
  • Ignacio Gómez-Reino
    • 11
  • Elena Lobo
    • 2
    • 9
    • 12
  • Juan Carlos Marco
    • 2
    • 7
    • 9
  • José Manuel Menchón
    • 3
    • 6
    • 13
  • Mercedes Navío
    • 3
    • 14
    • 15
    • 16
  • Gemma Parramón
    • 17
  • Tirso Ventura
    • 2
    • 9
    • 18
  1. 1.Department of Medicine and PsychiatryUniversity of ZaragozaZaragozaSpain
  2. 2.Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Aragón (IIS Aragón)ZaragozaSpain
  3. 3.CIBERSAM, Instituto de Salud Carlos IIIMadridSpain
  4. 4.Hospital Clinic BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de DéuBarcelonaSpain
  6. 6.University of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  7. 7.Psychiatry Service, Hospital Clínico UniversitarioZaragozaSpain
  8. 8.Sociedad Española de Medicina PsicosomaticaMadridSpain
  9. 9.University of ZaragozaZaragozaSpain
  10. 10.Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychosomatics Service, Dexeus University Hospital (Autonomous University)BarcelonaSpain
  11. 11.Psychosomatic and Liaison Psychiatry Unit, Psychiatry Service, Complexo Hospitalario UniversitarioOurenseSpain
  12. 12.Department of Public HeathUniversity of ZaragozaZaragozaSpain
  13. 13.Department of PsychiatryBellvitge University Hospital-IDIBELLBarcelonaSpain
  14. 14.Mental Health Office of MadridMadridSpain
  15. 15.Department of PsychiatryDoce de Octubre University HospitalMadridSpain
  16. 16.University ComplutenseMadridSpain
  17. 17.Department of PsychiatryHospital Universitari Vall d’HebronBarcelonaSpain
  18. 18.Psychosomatic and Liaison Psychiatry Unit, Psycho-Oncology, Psychiatry Service, Hospital Clínico UniversitarioZaragozaSpain

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