Parkinson's disease is a chronic neurological condition that presents primarily as a motoric disorder (tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia). Although the symptoms can be controlled to some extent by medications, the disease remains incurable and progressive. Since the discovery of the underlying neuropathology of parkinsonism, research on its psychological aspects has had a biomedical orientation and has focused almost exclusively on the depression and cognitive impairment observed in a substantial proportion of Parkinson patients. Present evidence does not permit firm conclusions about the relative contributions of neurological and psychosocial factors to these symptoms. Methodological problems, reliance on indirect evidence, and the paucity of psychosocial data all contribute to the inconclusiveness of the findings. We argue that a comprehensive understanding of the psychological aspects of Parkinson's disease depends on combining the investigation of how individual patients experience and adapt (for better or for worse) to their illness with the prevailing biomedical approach to research.
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