Psychosomatic medicine revisited - September 2024

Welcome to the XXVII Symposium of Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation Psychosomatic medicine revisited

By arranging this high standard international scientific symposium, we aim to foster a discussion on the inter-relationships between mind and body.

Psyche and soma cannot be separated

One of the most common challenges faced by clinicians is the management of individuals whose symptoms do not align with any known or well-defined physical or psychological illness or disorder. In general practice, these individuals constitute approximately one-fifth to one-third of all cases. In more specialized tertiary care settings, these diagnostically challenging, and poorly responsive patients become even more prevalent.

Typically, such symptoms are amenable to symptomatic management and information provided by general practitioners. However, when they persist, they can become exceedingly debilitating, significantly impacting work, daily functioning, and overall quality of life. Within the healthcare system, these affected individuals often find themselves without expert guidance, financial support, and therapy.

Previously, these individuals were labeled as psychosomatic or received psychiatric diagnoses. Less stigmatizing but still inadequate terms used to describe these affected individuals include functional disorders or medically unexplained symptoms (MUS). Nowadays, these conditions are often approached through a biopsychosocial framework, which recognizes that the boundary between biology and psyche, mind, and brain, is artificial, and that a purely traditional biomedical approach is insufficient. These symptoms are real. Recent scientific research has unveiled underlying biological mechanisms involving genetics, epigenetics, cellular processes, neural networks, the autonomic nervous system, as well as immunological and endocrine pathways. Furthermore, the mechanisms underlying symptom generation may involve or be triggered by a multitude of stressors, both physical and psychological. Social factors play an important role, contributing to stress or influencing placebo/nocebo mechanisms. Through the biopsychosocial model, it becomes evident that these mechanisms are present in all illnesses, even when symptoms arise from well-defined diseases such as cancer or epilepsy.

The objective of this celebratory symposium is to provide a clinically relevant overview of the most common functional disorders, the mechanisms underpinning them, and the current state of knowledge regarding their management and organization of care.

The target audience of the symposium includes clinicians and researchers interested in psychosomatic medicine, functional disorders and the relations between mind, brain, and body.

We look forward to seeing you in Hanasaari!

Per-Henrik Groop
Professor of Internal Medicine
Chairman of the Board

Risto Vataja, MD
Chief Physician
HUS Brain centre
Scientific expert of the organizing committee

Tom Pettersson, MD
Chairman of the organizing committee
Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation