Perhaps then there is a fear, in this era of big pharmaceuticals, of a slide towards the chemical life…a creeping worry that personal responsibility might be usurped by biology. This is certainly not the case and to argue otherwise is a gross oversimplification of what is happening. It’s difficult to argue that the boundaries between the mental and physical are blurred. What is needed therefore is a better understanding of the delicate interplay between life experience and physiology if one is to treat the illnesses that we face. Some of us, for example, maybe more biologically susceptible to environmental stress and express this vulnerability in the form of mental illness. Carmine Pariante, professor of biological psychiatry at King’s college London institute of Psychiatry refers to this as the ‘resilience spectrum’.
A link between biology and environment is not revelatory. The effects of environmental, social and psychological issues on heart disease, diabetes and some cancers is increasingly understood. A biological approach to diabetes is doomed to failure. Without removing the psychological and environmental factors that facilitate its development we are fighting a losing battle. And yet, this does not alter what it is, which is an illness of a physical nature.