chapter  1
9 Pages

IBD: what is it and does psyche have anything to do with it?


Infl ammatory bowel disease (IBD) is named for its effects on the gut, however, due to the centrality of gastrointestinal (GI) health on the whole person, a purely GI centric view of the illness fails to conceive the full spectrum of the patients’ experiences and concerns (Andrews et al. 2009). The gut is essential for nutrition and also contributes to the pleasure experienced through taste, food satisfaction, satiety and the emotional, community aspects of shared meals, in addition to serving ritual purposes, both social and religious. Disturbances in GI function and the inability of people to participate fully in this food/meal-based aspect of life that is usually ‘taken for granted’ can cause much distress. In addition, IBD is a chronic illness, the onset of which is usually before mid-life, meaning that most people affected have a long exposure time, are affected at a time when they expect to be well, and have a long-term illness with an uncertain future, whereas other illnesses affecting this age bracket are usually acute and self-limiting. All of these factors make IBD a diffi cult disease/illness from a psychological/ societal viewpoint. Hence, the importance of considering the psychological dimension of IBD.