George Engel and the Biopsychosocial Model

George Engel was definitely influenced by Adolf Meyer’s pyschobiology. He came up with the biopsychosocial model, which approaches diagnosis and treatment from the biological, psychological, and social viewpoints. This well- rounded way of thinking about disease came about around the time of the DSM II and influenced the way future editions defined disease, and diagnosed it (Smith, 2002).

  • Engle’s articleproposing the Biopsychosocial Model critiques the Medical Model and asserts that health professionals need to change the way they approach disease in order to best serve their patients.Highlights from his article include:
    • The problem of psychiatry fitting with the medical model. Engle did not lay blame with psychiatry but rather the medical model. He viewed the medical model as “a model of disease no longer adequate for the scientific tasks and social responsibilities of either medicine or psychiatry,” and listed what he believed to be the shortcomings of the medical model.
    • The medical model is redictionistic in that it views disease as nothing more than deviation from the norm of “measurable biological variables.”
    • The biomedical model was developed by scientists as a way to study disease. So instead of making the model fit the phenomena, the phenomena must fit within the model. This is a problem because the nature of disease is so diverse in terms of how it presents, symptoms, severity, response to treatment, and so forth, that it is very difficult to make the phenomena of disease fit into the biomedical model.


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