Clinical Behavioral Medicine and Its Cutting Edges

Biofeedback, Behavior Therapy, and Hypnosis
  • Ian E. Wickramasekera


Profound changes have been occurring in health care, particularly in terms of the types of diseases presented to physicians today, and the recognition of the inadequacies of conventional medical treatments for these disorders. Acute infectious diseases, like pneumonia and tuberculosis, no longer kill or cripple citizens of the United States so frequently as they did in 1900. Instead, chronic stress-related multifactorial conditions, like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and auto accidents, are today’s major killers and cripplers. These diseases cannot be traced to a single pathogen, but behavioral and environmental factors can increase vulnerability to the disease (Califano, 1979). Eighty percent of the problems presented to physicians today are chronic diseases, such as colitis, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. These are diseases of choice, not chance, because life-style and behavioral factors, such as diet, smoking, and exercise, are major risk factors for the prevention of these disorders. With the chronicity of disease, behavioral factors become even more crucial to prognosis and to effective therapy (compliance with medication, depression, etc.). In 1979 the Surgeon General’s Report attributed 50% of all deaths to unhealthy behaviors. The profile of illness today is marked by chronic-stress-related multifactorial diseases in which behavioral and psychological variables and issues of choice are crucial to prevention, therapy, and prognosis. It is worth noting that even for a new infectious disease, AIDS, behavior is a major risk factor and in fact a specific type of behavior, sexual behavior. (See Figure 5.)


Behavior Therapy Placebo Effect Behavioral Medicine Cutting Edge Psychosomatic Medicine 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian E. Wickramasekera
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavioral Medicine Clinic and Stress Disorders Research LaboratoryEastern Virginia Medical SchoolNorfolkUSA

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