Balint groups: psychosocial nonsense or a real insight into the doctor-patient relationship?
We have all come across them, but how should we react? That patient who keeps returning to their family doctor, with volumes of notes, numerous letters from specialists, but no disease is ever found. Or the patient who has not visited the doctor for 20 years and then presents with depression but says he or she does not want to talk about it. And then there is the patient who keeps bringing you gifts. This is where psychosocial medicine comes in. Love it or hate it—you cannot ignore it.
Around the world, medical training is increasingly demanding an understanding of patients' problems that goes beyond the organic nature of disease. Some students resent having to study these “soft” behavioural and social sciences, which take them away from the “real” medicine of anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology. Yet to ignore the powerful influence of health beliefs and emotions is to deny the