From Medicine to Psychoanalysis and Psychosomatics

Psyche and Soma
  • Marilia Aisenstein


Various philosophical and theological responses have been proposed to get beyond the idea that thought is necessarily mortal, since it is tied to the body. Hence the notion of an immortal soul, the seat of thought, not reducible to the uncertainties of the soma. Here I offer some semantic considerations: “soma”, the Greek word for body, took on its present sense of a living organism only during the Fifth and Fourth centuries B.C. with Hippocrates. Before the Corpus Hypocratum, the term soma referred to an inanimate body or corpse. “Psyche” originally signified breath and, by extension, the breath of life and then soul. It is worth recalling that these semantic shifts occurred at a time when Hippocrates was founding medicine as a scientific discipline based on objective observation and the study of symptoms (semiology).


Somatic Disorder Pleasure Principle Death Drive Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Semantic Consideration 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marilia Aisenstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Paris Psychoanalytical SocietyFrance

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