Orthomolecular Theory

American chemist Linus C. Pauling (19011994) developed this approach to the treatment of psychopathology or mental disorders based on the tenet that every disorder may be alleviated with the administration of specific chemical substances. This therapeutic viewpoint is known, also, as megavitamin therapy, orthomolecular psychiatry, and vitamin therapy. In general, biological/biochemical theories of mental illness and mental retardation are gaining in recognition and popularity (cf., Frazer & Winokur, 1977). Advanced research, also, has aided in identifying certain types of mental illness as a somatopsychic effect of biological conditions, including genetic, biochemical, environmental, and nutritional factors. The field called somatopsychics ("body-mind") refers to psychological or psychiatric symptomatology of primary physical etiology; cf., psychosomatics ("mind-body") in which physical conditions/maladies result from psychological stress. Thus, in simple terms, in somatopsychics theory, the body's state of health affects the mind's well-being, whereas in psychosomatics theory, the mind's state of health influences the body's well-being. Both orthomolecular theory and somatopsychics theory deal with the awareness that mental and emotional disorders may be caused by biological/chemical deficiencies of certain nutritional elements (vitamins, protein, minerals), as well as by malnutrition in general. However, it is highly debatable just how far somatopsychics and biology/chemistry will advance and be able, ultimately, to replace the therapeutic methods of psychology. See also PSYCHOPATHOLOGY, THEORIES OF; PSYCHOSOMATICS THEORY. REFERENCES

Pauling, L. (1968). Orthomolecular psychiatry. Science, 160, 265-271. Pauling, L. (1974). On the orthomolecular environment of the mind: Ortho-molecular theory. American Journal of Psychiatry, 131, 1251-1257. Frazer, A., & Winokur, A. (Eds.) (1977). The biological bases of psychiatric disorders. New York: Spectrum.

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