“Savoir pour prévoir, prévoir pour prévenir”
It is with pleasure that I welcome Professor Richard Rokyta, M.D., DrSc., Head of the Department for Normal, Pathological and Clinical Physiology, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, who graciously accepted the invitation to join the Editorial Board of the Neuroendocrinology Letters.
Most of the papers, both original and review articles in this issue, are devoted to the preventive aspects in human health conditions. This applies both to the theoretical as well as clinical contributions, Review papers and The Story Behind. Prevention is one of the main objectives in the philosophy of the Neuroendocrinology Letters. The latest step towards the fullfillment of this ambition is the incorporation of the section on chronobiology in this Journal or as Professor Franz Halberg put it, “the scope of this chronobiology section of Neuroendocrinology Letters is to map the time-qualified feedsideward interactions within the neuroendocrines, in the rest of an organism and in the environment” .
Preventive measures and procedures must be understood consistently throughout the human life and throughout the passage of time “per se” as seen from the very beginning, i.e. from conception through the prenatal and perinatal stages of life. The human life has to be considered as an indivisible continuum where each of the developmental stages is equally important, all stages interdependent and not separable from the whole individual life’s continuum. In this continuum, the individual represents an indivisible entity of all functions on both physiological or physical, psychological and social levels. The physical, biochemical, endocrinological and psychological processes represent the whole which cannot be divided . The significance of continuity and discontinuity in the comprehensive developmental process of all functions in the biological, psychological and socio-cultural context of human life is obvious in a journal like the Neuroendocrinology Letters. I envision that this Journal will become the epitome of integrated studies on human development.
The psychophysical organism is trying to maintain its health. It strives towards recovery, away from destruction; it strives towards homeostasis, away from disorganization and chaos. Health has clearly a very strong dynamic and creative dimension, and in 1974 I described health as “the dynamic movement along the creative path towards self-realization” . Self-realization must be understood to contain the biological, psychological and social dimensions with regard to:
a. the constructive integration of dialectically changing, individually dependent conditions with simultaneous maintenance of the homeostasis of the “milieu interieur”; and
b. the balance in the striving toward satisfaction of the central intimate vision of the individual during the continuous confrontation and adaption of the psychoendocrine system with and to the “milieu exterieur” of ordinary day-to-day life situations. By adaption is meant not just the adaption of the individual to the environment, but also the possibility to transform the environment to suit oneself .
Preventive aspects in biology and medicine belong to the “software,” to the untangible subtle phenomena, unfortunately very often neglected. Prevention could be likened to the “butterfly effect” according to which events are interdependent to the degree that very subtle and seemingly insignificant movements of a butterfly’s wings are able to set off, somewhere far away, a large typhoon.
To edit a journal, especially a scientific one, and on top of it a scientific inter- and transdisciplinary journal, is a real challenge. In order to undertake such a challenge, a new scientific theory and common language are required, the language which could be understood across disciplines and could be able to assist in getting beyond semantic problems .
While editing this journal the words of A. G. Apley on writing a paper come to my mind: “Writing is like having a baby; the gestation period is long and the labour painful, but in the end you have something to show for it” [5, 6]. Philip H. Gordon, in summarizing his paper on writing a textbook, quotes Winston Churchill: “Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to our servitude, you kill the monster and fling him out to the public” . Writing and editing is a creative endeavor in cooperation between the editors and the authors.
In closing this Editorial I would like to quote our Art Director: “The humanistic touch which involves all the senses in the creation process both in science and art has been one of the main objectives of editing the Neuroendocrinology Letters” .
Peter G. Fedor-Freybergh
1. Halberg F, Nash Smith H, Cornélissen G, Delmore P, Schwartzkopff O, the International BIOCOS Group. Hurdles to asepsis, universal literacy, and chronobiology—all to be overcome. Neuroendocrinology Letters 2000; 21:145–160.
2. Fedor-Freybergh PG. Psychoimmuno-neuroendocrinology: an integrative approach to modern philosophy in medicine and psychology. Neuroendocrinology Letters 1999; 20:205–213.
3. Fedor-Freybergh PG. Hormone Therapy in Psychiatry. In: Itil TM, Laudahn, G, Herrman WM, editors. Psychotropic Action of Hormones. New York: Spectrum Publ Inc; 1976. p. 1–51.
4. Fedor-Freybergh PG. Editorial. Int J Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine 1993; 5:117–119.
5. Apley AG. So you want to get published. J R Soc Med 1993; 86:6–8. 6 Gordon PH. So you want to write a textbook. J R Soc Med 2000; 93:150–151. 7 Maas L. From the Art Director’s Desk. Neuroendocrinology Letters 2000; 21:4.