After being subject to Descartes' fallacy for the past few centuries, it has now again been recognized that the mental state has an impact on health and disease, and it is becoming increasingly more evident that DNA alone does not predict health trajectories. Psychoneuroimmunology and epigenetics are two fields of science whose research supports those ideas. Psychoneuroimmunology aims to discover the mechanisms that connect our mind to the rest of our nervous, endocrine, and immune systems while epigenetics demonstrates that different environmental circumstances can produce different phenotypic outcomes that are unrelated to the actual DNA blueprint. An integration of the findings of those two fields may allow for a more accurate and complete understanding of individual health trajectories and may generate pathways to a more individualized treatment approach.
Published in SUNY Plattsburgh's Scientia Discipulorum Journal of Undergraduate Research. Volume 5, issue 1, pages 45-62. 2011.