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Higher Education

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About the Module


Theodore M. Brown is Professor of History and of Community and Preventive Medicine and Medical Humanities at the University of Rochester. His research falls into several areas: the history of U.S. and international public health; the history of U.S. health policy; and the history of mind-body medicine. He is a Contributing Editor (History) of the American Journal of Public Health and Editor of Rochester Studies in Medical History, a book series of the University of Rochester Press. He co-edited and substantially co-authored Making Medical History: The Life and Times of Henry E. Sigerist (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997) and, with Anne-Emanuelle Birn, is currently completing an edited collection of essays, Comrades in Health: American Health Internationalists, Abroad and at Home, to be published by Rutgers University Press.

Dr. Brown has published and lectured widely on the history of mind-body medicine. His work in this area includes: “Alan Gregg and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Support of Franz Alexander’s Psychosomatic Research” in Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 61 (1987); “Cartesian Dualism and Psychosomatics” in Psychosomatics 30 (1989); “Mental Diseases” in Companion Encyclopedia of the History of Medicine (London: Routledge, 1993); “George Canby Robinson and The Patient as a Person” in Greater Than the Parts: Holism in Biomedicine, 1920–1950 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998); Emotions and Disease in Historical Perspective (Bethesda, MD: National Library of Medicine, 1997); “The Rise and Fall of American Psychosomatic Medicine,” talk at New York Academy of Medicine, November 29, 2000 (available at //, accessed 1/27/2012); and “George Engel and Rochester’s Biopsychosocial Tradition: Historical and Developmental Perspectives” in The Biopsychosocial Perspective: Past, Present, Future (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2003).

Suggested Use

The Changing Explanations in Mind-Body Medicine module can be used to support undergraduate classes in the history of medicine, in intellectual and cultural history, and in the history of philosophy. It can also be used in conjunction with courses on medicine in literature. Courses in the history of medicine can incorporate all or parts of this module in their lectures and class discussions. Because the mind-body theme is often neglected in most medical history courses, much of this material would be supplementary or complementary to other course materials. For courses in intellectual and cultural history and on medicine in literature, the emphasis could be placed on the medical contexts in which familiar mind-body themes also appeared. The bibliography offers further readings on a variety of topics for the interested student or teacher, as well as background sources for the suggested projects and paper topics.


  • At the conclusion of a unit or an entire module, students are expected to
    • understand how early the mind-body theme appeared in Western thought and how persistently it has continued in medicine.
    • appreciate that emphasis on the mind- or emotion-based, that is, psychological dimensions of medicine has waxed and waned over time but has never fully vanished.
    • learn about circumstances in medical history that help determine whether the psychological aspects are either central or marginal to medical thought and practice at any given time.
    • describe how the persistent quest for scientific legitimacy, the jumping on intellectual bandwagons, and the recurrent tensions between theoretical understanding and practical clinical experience have all affected awareness of mind-body relationships in medicine.
    • identify the ways in which the long-standing issues about mind-body interactions remain despite the advances of modern science.
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