Unconscious mental factors in hiv infection

Mind and Matter 6 (2):193-206 (2008)
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Abstract

Multiple drug resistant strains of HIV and continuing difficulties with vaccine development highlight the importance of psychologi- cal interventions which aim to in uence the psychosocial and emo- tional factors empirically demonstrated to be significant predictors of immunity, illness progression and AIDS mortality in seropositive persons. Such data have profound implications for psychological interventions designed to modify psychosocial factors predictive of enhanced risk of exposure to HIV as well as the neuroendocrine and immune mechanisms mediating the impact of such factors on disease progression. Many of these factors can be construed as unconscious mental ones, and psychoanalytic self-psychology may be a useful framework for conceptualizing psychic and immune de- fence as well as bodily and self-integration in HIV infection. Al- though further prospective studies and cross-cultural validation of research are necessary, existing data suggest that psychoanalytic insights may be useful both in therapeutic interventions and evaluative research which would require an underlying epistemology of the complementarity of mind and matter.

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