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Prof. MUDr. Kvetoslav Sipr


Issues of Positive Psychology in Education of Future Physicians





Positive psychology should be considered rather a method of work than a self-contained discipline. Positive psychology focuses attention on the positive aspects of life: joy, hope, support of well-functioning interpersonal relations, well-being and happiness (Slezáčková, 2012). At the beginning of the third millennium, Martin Seligman defined positive psychology as a science concerned with positive emotions, pleasant life experience, authentic happiness, good and strong character traits and well-functioning communities (Seligman, 2002, 2004). Several scholars emphasised optimism and life appreciation of course long time before him, among them Czech psychologists Zdeněk Matějček and Libor Míček.
It may be admitted that a similar process as in psychology occured in medicine, and even earlier. A positive view of health has been promoted since the middle of the last century. It is rather easy to characterise the features of particular diseases, but it is difficult to define health.
A comprehensive definition of health was given for the first time in the WHO Constitution accepted at the end of the International Health Conference in New York, 22 June 1946: Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This definition has never been changed and it has been acknowledged up to the present time even if it is too declarative and does not cover an explanation of the term well-being. Majority of clinical branches has been accepting health support as their most important task for several decades already.
Health when understood positively is naturally a part of the education of future physicians but in particular courses on a different level. Today, it is generally acknowledged that the main task of the physician is to support health, not to cure diseases. Health protection is considered to be the main educational aim at least in some subjects, such as preventive medicine, community medicine and occupational medicine.
Medicine and psychology have many joint interests. No wonder that psychology is one of the subjects taught at faculties of medicine and that knowledge of some health science topics is required from students of psychology. Present students of medicine complain about insufficient training for contact with patients (Procjuk, Košťálová, Kovář, 2008) and experienced physicians alert to pitiful low number of clinical psychologist (Mihál, 2004). The word “well-being” is a central term not only in medicine but also in psychology, especially in positive psychology. The emergence of a high number of publications devoted to problems connecting positive psychology with medicine could have been expected. Unfortunately, such an assumption was not confirmed.