• Nicholas Kent

The Biopsychosocial Model of everything...

I first was formally introduced to this concept through some coursework some years ago, or perhaps it was just the first real time I took notice. Essentially the run-down was about the biopsychosocial aspects of pain, a very complex domain in itself, and how there's basically more than meets the eye when it comes to pain and how these factors are sometimes in such plain sight that we completely ignore them all together.


It's funny how we so often do that, ignore or take for granted the complete and utter obvious...


Anyways, to sum it up - pain can be quite contextual and it will always be shaped by the layers which construct it -

  • the biological elements (our body, flesh and bone)

  • the psychological elements (our cognitions of pain, self-esteem, fears, anxiety's, coping skills)

  • the social elements (the environmental factors, attitudes, social interpretations, supports, stigma, acceptance)

Without burying too far, the experience of pain (yes, it is an experience) will always be modulated and understood through some type of overlap between these three domains. This is very complex, but the amazing thing about the course that day and why, in some ways, this stuff is so obvious yet overlooked is because when it's kinda broken down with analogy, or anecdote, the shape within the blur just rises to astounding clarity and gifts us a beautiful heuristic.


It's never a silver bullet (nothing is), but recognizing biopsychosocial factors certainly provide the whopping pieces of a puzzle that can forever recalibrate your instincts...


Anyways, the thing that shines through and rattles me to my bones are the principled concepts of it all.


The principle of the biopsychosocial.


Universally applicable (probably) and an ever reliable lens to give us a bigger, clearer reference point and dominant picture of our individual reality (I'm pretty sure). Biopsychosocial analysis truly opens up the doors for self-awareness in relation to anything, and this is a powerful tool, but to be wielded with care...


Let's put our feet to the ground.


The multidimensionality of the way we think about something like, say, smoking would take us beyond simply thinking of smoking as a chemical addiction - though this is definitely a part of it. Social circles, cultural norms and character traits all play strong roles in the "why" one might smoke and will continue to alongside the biochemical realm. It must be understood that these elements are intertwined, in constant flux and do not simply work in parralel. The environmental influence of factors such as whom you hang out with and if they smoke or not will probably enable any inherent predispositions you might have to addictive habits such as smoking, which in turn has the obvious effects on your physical brain. This raw chemical addiction of smoking, coupled with the even more powerful influence of peer acceptance only reinforces those feel-good feelings - particularly if you hold a strong social complex or need for acceptance - which likely further encourages the habit of smoking and discourages other opposing traits like exercising and healthy diet - leading the physical body astray, accumulating stresses to which the hook of nicotine seems the only cure and now the natural inertia of these compounded effects are beyond our easy control...


So, to flip this - in order for this person to solve the problem of their smoking (if they feel it is a problem), then the first order "i just need to quit buying smokes" as a solution is only a fragment of what needs to be considered in order to solve this... As seen, smoking can covertly penetrate many aspects of one's being and to subtract it from the dynamic can usually mean upending other important parts of their life - aspects that may be immovable or incompatible with a world as a non-smoker. This might be getting a little dramatic, and the decision to quit smoking might not be as dire as the picture paints... But for some people, even the most "safe" choices can mean dramatic things thus inconsidered thinking can be costly, but that's not the total point of this. The point is that as humans, we're rarely operating in a vacuum of influence and the things we do, particularly habitual things, are operating in a biological, psychological and sociological system - the system of us.


And like any system, it usually only works upon some type of equilibrium of all the moving parts and thus to tweak, alter or all together add or subtract something here will undoubtedly mean something else, over there.


This is the biopsychosocial model of everything...





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