Psychosomatic medicine: A new psychiatric subspecialty in the U.S. focused on the interface between psychiatry and medicine

Constantine G. Lyketsos, Frits J. Huyse, David F. Gitlin, James L. Levenson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background and Objectives: In the past, Psychosomatic Medicine (PM) has had ambiguous connotations, and there have been many other names for this specialized fields, including Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry. The objective of this report is to briefly review the background, the history and current status of PM, which recently was recognized in the U.S. a psychiatric subspecialty. Methods: Historical review and review of the literature. Results: PM has a rich history. Psychoanalysts and psychophysiologists pioneered the study of mind-body interactions, and crucial events in the development include the funding of PM units in several U.S. teaching hospitals by the Rockefeller Foundation, and the training grants and a research development program funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. By the 1980s, all psychiatry residency programs were requiered to provide substancial clinical experience in the field, and as of 2005 there were 32 fellowship programs in the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine's (APM) directory. In 2001, The Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine (APM) applied for the recognition of PM as a subspecialty of psychiatry, and formal approval was granted by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) in March 2003. The foundation of PM is a specialized body of scientific knowledge regarding psychiatric aspects of medical illness. This has been articulated in contemporary textbooks, journals and regular scientificic meetings of national and international societies A cadre of scholars and researchers has emerged, and important contributions have occurred. A major goal of the PM field is to improve the psychiatric care of patients with complex medical conditions. There are a number of obstacles and challenges ahead in pursuing optimal integration of PM services into existing service delivery systems of care, but anticipated expansion of accredited fellowship programs in PM will hopefully help address this shortfall. In the past 20 years an international PM network has developed with increasing scientific exchanges, and the US paradigm is regarded as important for the development of PM as a subspecialty internationally. Conclusion: Formal recognition as a subspecialty in the U.S. has and will strengthen PM and will enhance its growth internationally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-171
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006


  • Liaison psychiatry
  • Psychosomatic medicine
  • Subspecialty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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