MBBS Curriculum 2020

Radical criticisms of the Biopsychosocial Model, and why we still have it nevertheless

10 October 2019 - 17:00-18:30

Lecture: Derek Bolton, King’s College London

Harris Lecture Theatre, Hodgkin Building, Guy’s Campus, King’s College London

Registration: Eventbrite (only required for attendees without a valid KCL ID)


The BPSM has recently been radically criticised by authoritative commentators in e.g. The Lancet and the American Journal of Psychiatry; for being vague, lacking scientific content, useless and philosophically incoherent. This combined with the fact that the BPSM is still so frequently invoked in clinical and healthcare education settings signals a problem in the current conceptual foundations of medicine/healthcare. We keep invoking the BPSM because there is accumulating evidence that psychosocial factors as well as biological factors are relevant to many diseases and their management. Refers e.g. social epidemiology, management of LTCs. I will present the case that the ‘content’ of the BPSM/biopsychosocial medicine is to found in the specifics for particular conditions – in fact just like the content of the Biomedical Model/biomedicine is in its specifics.

Part 1 of 4 in the series

The Biopsychosocial Model: Updating the Model in Response to Major criticisms“.

Led by Derek Bolton, Professor of Philosophy & Psychopathology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, until recently Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist in SL&M. He has published widely in health sciences and philosophy of psychiatry and medicine. His latest book, co-authored with Professor Grant Gillett (philosopher and formerly neurosurgeon) at Otago, is The Biopsychosocial Model of Health and Disease: New Philosophical and Scientific Developments, published OPEN ACCESS by Springer Palgrave. These lectures will review and apply the main ideas of the book, adapted for health students and educators and interested clinicians.