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The social part of the advanced biopsychosocial model. Part I: Principles of semantic interaction, as addressed in the volume approach

Thomas Frölich, F F Bevier, Alicja Babakhani, Hannah H Chisholm, Peter Henningsen, David S Miall, Seija Sandberg, Arbogast Schmitt


Being social means to individually refer and relate to others, these functions being seen as constituents of what is called Society. Whereas being alive and having a psyche may in a simplifying approach be at first conceptualised as non-referential, introducing also the social component of a biopsychosocial model (BPS model) necessitates taking into account the interaction of a distinct inside with a differing non-inside. We have aimed to develop an advanced version of a BPS model, applying the idea of a qualifying process producing and reproducing individual coherences. The stable source of reproduction was characterised as providing the coherence and the coherence itself was understood as having the form of an iterated change that does not alter the coherent quality as such.

In the present article and the two papers which follow it in the current issue of the Journal, we describe in more detail the nature of the insides, as interacting with other insides without loosing their identity. This necessitates the attribution of an interpretative, hermeneutic power to each coherent processing to be taken into account. In addition, an interface facility has to be assumed, even if this is not realised in form of a separate, individual structure, but instead actively implicit in the processes concerned. In issuing “insides”, we automatically follow a “volume approach”, as different to typical network approaches applying lines and points as principal elements of construction.

The “volume approach” outlined here refers to information processing based on processes, coherences, meaning and active distinction and allocation as its constituents. Following the concepts introduced in our previous articles (for explanation, see text), we will here establish a concept of social interaction that is based on the distinguishing quality of insides and their differences concerning individual contextual settings. This allows for a model of social interaction that does not neutralise individuals and individuality to exchangeable numbers. Instead, the individuality of each coherence addressed is maintained and seen as an active process decisively interacting, or not interacting with other individualities and a partially random environment. Applying these principles, the formal aspects of inside-with-inside interactions are described. Child-parent interactions and parenting are used as examples of social interaction, as well as interactions in forms of healthcare, such as those that occur within psychotherapeutic settings. Throughout this, and the two papers which follow, some topics are discussed from a different point of view. We think that such an iterated focusing from different angles may assist understanding, especially since the basis of our approach is probably unfamiliar, currently, for most readers.


Adaptive mentalisation-based integrative treatment, attachment theory, biopsychosocial model, Cartesian duality, narratives, person-centered healthcare, protonarrative envelopes, psychotherapy, semantic space

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