“We stay on the intellectual shoulders
of the giants of medicine from past days
And we are able to see further than they did
Only because they helped us to do so.”
In this issue of the Neuroendocrinology Letters you will find a letter to the Editor by Igor M. Kvetnoy, Russel J. Reiter and Vladimir Kh. Khavinson on Claude Bernard’s (1813–1878) vision on the connection between non-endocrine cells and the production of hormones.
The philosophy of this Journal agrees very much with the basic thoughts of Claude Bernard. We stress the constructive integration of dialectically changing, individually dependent conditions with simultaneous maintenance of the homeostasis of the “milieu interieur” and 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 as one of the prerequisites for maintaining the health conditions of the individual .
Claude Bernard has also seen the close connections between science and art as they also are anchored in the basic philosophy of this Journal. Claude Bernard believed that the artist can find more stable grounds in science and that the scientist may generate a safe intuition from art. He was convinced that if physiology progressed long enough there would be an understanding between the poet, the philosopher and the physiologist .
You will find in this issue in the papers of Dr. E. Adamson-Macedo the impact of the human touch on the skin of the neonate on his/her psychoneuroimmunological development and thus maintaining health and preventing disease. This is very much true for preterm babies and consequently the impact of any biochemical/hormonal/psychological and other influences already present during the prenatal stage of human life will have a vital impact on the bonding processes and on the state of the psychoneuroimmunological health of the newborn child throughout all his life.
The human life should be considered as an indivisible continuum where each of the developmental stages is equally important, all stages interdependent and inseparable from the whole individual’s life continuum. In this continuum, the individual represents the indivisible entity of all functions on both psychological or physical, psychological and social levels. The physical, biochemical, endocrinological, immunological and psychological processes represent a whole which cannot be divided. It is not possible to separate any stage of human development from the rest of the individual’s life continuum. The life continuum starting at conception is one of the basic needs in human life in order to maintain homeostasis and equilibrium. The disturbance of the individual’s life continuum on a momentous scale would lead to illness or in extreme cases, where homeostasis cannot be regained, death is the result. The information processing, which reaches the child from the conception onwards, will be received via the different biochemical and endocrinological pathways .
Dr. Adamson should be given a great merit for developing during the last years a new branch within psychoneuroendocrinology and psychoneuroimmunology, i.e. neonatal psychoneuroimmunology, which I would like to enlarge with neuroendocrinology and psychoneuroimmunology, of the whole prenatal and perinatal period of life. This has among other issues an enormous importance in treating the preterm babies with dignity as a personality per se and also to approach the prenatal child as a competent and highly developed “passenger in utero” .
The indivisible entity of the body/mind system is very clearly stressed in the paper by H. Walach and H. Römer on complementarity as a useful concept for consciousness studies.
In this issue of the Journal you will find a case report (Dr. Jaromír Astl, et al.). I would like again to emphasize the importance of publishing case reports which have enormous scientific value. Science certainly should not be only the pure statistic evaluation of observations collected but also the observation itself if performed for scientific purposes with scientific methodology. Here we come to the unfortunately often underestimated value of case reports. It is my view that a solid case report is from the scientific point of view not different from a solid experimental work or a solid statistical evaluation of collected material . Vondrácek  in 1970 pointed out that a concept originates in abstraction and itself is not imaginable. We cannot imagine the zoological concept of a dog but we can imagine our neighbor’s poodle. Thus we have created an image of the neighbor’s poodle which we use as a concept of a dog.
Jan Amos Comenius (1592–1670), the great Czech pedagogue and philosopher, emphasized that if a child is supposed to learn to recognize an object one has first to show it to the child. In this way emerged Orbis Sensualium Pictus  which means the case report of things.
Vondrácek continues to point out that disease is not always possible to visualize. The dermatologists are happy enough to use pictures as case reports. Other medical disciplines (and of course psychologists) have to paint their pictures with words.
In order to develop a common language and a common scientific theory within and between different disciplines such as medicine, psychology, anthropology, pedagogy, sexology, and of course, philosophy and ethics, one has to be precise about the definition of concepts and that is possible mainly on the basis of a good case report .
The former Editor-in-Chief of the very distinguished medical journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, Per Bergsjø, acknowledges the significance of case reports in one of his editorials : “Case reports are a separate entity within the scope of contents of a scientific clinical journal. As such, they are subject to their own rules and have their own merits. They are not automatically inferior to the ‘scientific’ articles. The clinician feels at home with a case report. The good case report makes better reading than computer printouts of stepwise logistic regression models of the risk factors. Besides, the case report may be immediately useful through its message. In this age of golden awards, the case reports should be judged in a separate class.”
It is with great pleasure that I welcome Professor Marianne Hassler, Dr. rer. soc., Dept. of Clinical & Physiological Psychology, University of Tuebingen, Germany as a new member of our distinguished Board of Editors. Professor Hassler was a close cooperator and friend of the founder and former Editor-in-Chief of the Neuroendocrinology Letters, Professor Derek Gupta, and published together with him the paper “Melatonin is elevated in highly gifted musicians” . In the prior issue of this Journal she published a highly esteemed Review Paper “Music medicine. A neurobiological approach.”
On May 13th of this year we remembered with great sadness the third anniversary of the passing away of Derek Gupta, whose legacy is very present on the pages of this Journal.
Chronobiology is represented in this issue, in the Story Behind, by Franz Halberg and his coworkers from different countries including the International BIOCOS Study Group. Since this Journal is covering also the science of chronobiology, I would like to encourage colleagues specialized in chronobiology to submit their papers to the Neuroendocrinology Letters.
I would also like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Professor Michal Karasek & Dr. Zielinska, Dr. Drobnik & Dr. Dabrowski, and Professor Vijayalaxmi, et al. for their invaluable original contributions.
As part of the editorial policy of this Journal, the issue of humanity is touched upon in every issue of the Neuroendocrinology Letters. As you will read in the Art Director’s editorial, we present in this number the masterpiece of Pierre Brueghel L’Ancien (1525–1569), Paysage avec la Chute d’Icare, together with the poem of Wystan Hugh Auden (1907–1973) commenting on this painting and reminding us of the human position on suffering and how it is taking place almost unnoticed.
Peter G. Fedor-Freybergh
1. Poupa O. Claude Bernard: Life and work (in Czech). Prague: SZN; 1961. p. 7.
2. 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.
3. Bernard C. Pensées—Notes détachées Paris: Baillière; 1937.
4. Fedor-Freybergh PG, Vogel V. Encounter with the Unborn: Philosophical Impetus behind Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine. In: Fedor-Freybergh PG, Vogel V, editors. Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine. Encounter with the Unborn: Comprehensive Survey of Research and Practice. Carnforth: Parthenon Publ; 1988. p. XVIII–XXXII.
5. Fedor-Freybergh PG. Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine: A New Approach to Primary Prevention. Int J Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine 1993; 5:285–292.
6. Fedor-Freybergh PG. Editorial: Editing a Journal (Part I). Int J Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine 1993; 5:117–119.
7. Vondrácek V. The significance of case reports. In: Vondrácek V. Psychological-Psychiatric Considerations (In Czech). Prague: Avicenum; 1970. p. 35–39.
8. Comenius JA. Orbis Sensualium Pictus. Nürnberg; 1658.
9. Bergsjø P. On Case Reports. Editorial. Acta Obstet Gynocol Scand 1992; 71:257–258.
10. Hassler M, Gupta D. Melatonin is elevated in highly gifted musicians. Neuroendocrinol Letters 1988; 19:87–91.