A sense of control, health, and illness: exploring the mind-body relationship and the socio-cultural/spiritual context: reflections on Bali

Author: Shapiro DH Jr
Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of California, Irvine
Conference/Journal: Int J Psychosom
Date published: 1990
Other: Volume ID: 37 , Issue ID: 1-4 , Pages: 40-9 , Word Count: 197

Research has shown that there is a much more intimate and complex relationship between the 'mind' and 'body' than heretofore acknowledged within the predominant Western scientific paradigm; and that a 'sense of control' may be one of the more important variables mediating that relationship. Furthermore, even when this 'mind-body' relationship is studied, it is often done so in a reductionist way--at a psychophysiological level within the individual, thereby ignoring the socio-cultural context within which it is embedded. To address these issues, this article examines the mind-body relationship within the socio-cultural/spiritual context of Bali. Specifically examined are: (1) the culture's underlying assumptions about the mind-body-spirit connection across developmental and life cycle issues (including physical illness, and death); (2) the importance of maintaining a sense of control, harmony, and balance, within oneself, one's community, and the cosmos; and (3) the implications of those views for a control-based model of positive health. The article concludes with: (1) a discussion of why control seems to be such an important 'construct' in human evolution; (2) an examination of the costs and benefits of different methods of maintaining a sense of control and orientation; and (3) and a call for efforts toward a unifying theory of human control.