Table of contents
Unravelling the Past and Shaping the Future of Healthcare
Doubts about what a specialist in this field does begin with the difficulty in pronouncing the name. That’s why we’ve shortened the name of Clinical Psychoneuroimmunology to cPNI.
The Exploration of Clinical Psychoneuroimmunology: Understanding the Complex Interconnection between the Psychological, the Neurological and the Immunological
In an age when health specialities, areas and concepts are spreading like mushrooms, it’s legitimate that every time we come across a new and almost unintelligible name there are emotions that can make us take a step back. And that’s the way it has to be. And that’s also what we’re about in cPNI.
Human perception is linked to our emotions and thoughts, which go hand in hand with our lifestyle. About the people we surround ourselves with, limiting beliefs and many other “related issues” that live up to the complex name that defines this fantastic area. The name has to be complex because human health, however much we want to simplify it, is also extraordinarily complex. Complex in the sense that it is the fruit of the interaction of multi-systems – the psychological (psycho-), neurological (-neuro-) and immunological (-immunology). There are many more, but imagine a name that still had to include the concept of endocrinology and sociology, for example. This is when we realise that psychoneuroimmunology is just a simplified name.
Origins and Growth of cPNI: From Theory to Practice in Human Health
Born in the USA from an exclusively theoretical perspective in the 1970s by an immunologist (Nicholas Cohen) and a psychologist (Robert Adler), the first studies focused on understanding the simple interaction between psychological stress and how this, by inducing changes in certain hormones, can suppress the immune system. This opened the door to the realisation that there is, after all, a bridge between emotions and physical illness.
Since then, the growth of the field has broadened the horizons of health research towards the logical and common-sense idea that human health is not the result of different fractions coming together, but of a complex and constant interaction between them. To lose awareness of this connection and interaction is also to lose the possibility of treating a human being as a whole, and even more seriously, to lose the possibility of guiding a patient on the path to a cure.
Later, in the 1990s, Dutch researcher Leo Priumboom began the path that eventually culminated in clinical psychoneuroimmunology, i.e. the clinical application of this science to people’s lives and health.
cPNI in Practice: Overcoming Stagnation with a Multifactorial View of Health
Based on basic concepts such as “film-based medicine”, instead of looking at illness as a stagnant moment in time, cPNI looks at human pathology as a combination and accumulation of built-up risk factors, the consequence of which is that the body tries to compensate through so-called “mechanisms of action”, sending signals (symptoms) that, if we are unable to interpret them, or as often happens, we cancel them out with drugs, end up culminating in a serious illness. This also demolishes the concept of monocausality, i.e. the association of a problem/disease with a single cause. Apart from rare exceptions, chronic health problems are always multifactorial and multicausal. Solving these problems implies investigating what they are and how they came about chronologically.
The disruptive factor of cPNI lies in the fact that a specialist in this area is not committed to or programmed to look only at a specific field, as is the case in medical and technical specialities with university training in the West. Of course, physiology (everything that is objective and measurable through tests, analyses, etc) is relevant. But no more or less than other highly important fields such as the emotional (what we feel), the cognitive (what we think), the social (who we relate to) and the sexual. There are more. All of them with the same degree of importance. Not least because the same medical diagnosis can come from completely different fields. We can use one of the pandemic diseases of our time, depression, as an example:
It can originate in the physiological field – sleep deficit combined with nutritional changes; in the emotional field – poor management of toxic emotions for long periods or a previous trauma; social – aggressive and destructive work context.
In a classic medical approach, the patient presents with symptoms of depression and will be medicated in a depersonalised way. At cPNI we investigate and search. We need to know how you feel, how you sleep and what you eat. How your labour went, whether you love what you do and whether you really want to solve your problem. We don’t ask for the sake of asking. We ask to find out.
The Role of the cPNI Specialist: Guiding and Supporting on the Journey to Integral Health
When the origins and risk factors are clear, we move on to a plan that is drawn up in communion with the patient. The cPNI specialist is a guide and a support. Change depends exclusively on the patient. That’s why it’s a two-way process that requires a bond of trust and connection. We don’t propose magic solutions because, unfortunately, they don’t exist. We propose a path of self-knowledge that inevitably ends in a cure or improvement of the health condition.
On the Clinical Psychoneuroimmunology work path, the therapist himself also works on his own healing and wounds, because we are all on the same side of the barricade.
cPNI represents this coherence and love, on which the future of health and the professionals who dedicate themselves to healing others must be based.