Mind the Gap: The History and Philosophy of Health Psychology and Mindfulness


  • Shayna Fox Lee York University, Toronto
  • Jacy L. Young York University, Toronto




mindfulness, history, philosophy.


The recent surge in popularity of the concept ‘mindfulness’ in academic, professional, and popular psychology has been remarkable. the ease with which mindfulness has gained traction in the health sciences and cultural imagination makes it apparent mindfulness is well-suited to our current social climate, appealing to both, experts and laypeople. as a subdiscipline established relatively late in the twentieth century, health psychology has a unique relationship to mindfulness. this article elucidates the shared roots between health psychology and mindfulness as a psychological construct and field of research, providing a frame of reference for the ways in which health psychology and mindfulness share similar theoretical and methodological challenges that affect their integration into health, social systems, and services.

Biografia do Autor

Shayna Fox Lee, York University, Toronto

Fox Lee is a doctoral student in the Historical, Theoretical and Critical Studies of Psychology program at York University, where she completed her master’s degree in 2014. Her research focuses on the study of mindfulness in clinical psychology, psychological research, and neuroscience (with emphases on its conceptual histories in both disciplinary and public contexts), as well as the history of therapeutic communities and communes. She is editor of the News & Notes section of History of Psychology, of the blog Advances in the History of Psychology, and a contributing member of the PsyBorgs digital history lab at York.

Jacy L. Young, York University, Toronto

Jacy L. Young is a psychologist and historian whose work explores the methods and practices of the human sciences. She has written on a wide-range of topics including questionnaires, intelligence testing, gender, child study, pedagogy, and evolutionary ideas in psychology. Dedicated to public engagement, she edits and blogs regularly at Advances in the History of Psychology and the recently launched Standpoints blog, a project of Psychology's Feminist Voices. She recently completed a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship and prior to that earned her doctorate in the History and Theory of Psychology program at York University in Toronto, Canada. 


Aftanas, L. I., &Golocheikine, S. A. (2001). Human anterior and frontal midline theta and lower alpha reflect emotionally positive state and internalized attention: high-resolution EEG investigation of meditation. Neuroscience Letters, 310(1), 57-60.

Armstrong, D. (1987). Theoretical tensions in biopsychosocial medicine. Social Science and Medicine, 25, 1213-1218.

Bakan, D. (1967). On method: Toward a reconstruction of psychological investigation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Barker, K. K. (2014). Mindfulness meditation: Do-it-yourself medicalization of every moment. Social Science & Medicine, 106, 168-176.

Bateson, G. (1979). Mind and nature: A necessary unity. New York, NY: E. P. Dutton.

Baum, A., Perry Jr., N. W., & Tarbell, S. (2004). The development of psychology as a health science. In T. J. Boll (Ed.),Handbook of Clinical Health Psychology (Volume 3:Models and perspective in Health Psychology). Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Benson, H., & Klipper, M. (1975). The relaxation response. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., . . . Devins, G. (2004). Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clincal Psychology: Science & Practice, 11(3) 230-241.

Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of beings present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 84, 822-848.

Cavanagh, K, Strauss, C., Forder, L., & Jones, F. (2014). Can mindfulness and acceptance be learnt by self-help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of mindfulness and acceptance-based self-help interventions. Clinical Psychology Review, 34(2), 118-129.

Chang, C., & Fraser, J. H. (2017). Cooperate! A paradigm shift for health equity. International Journal for Equity in Health, 16(1), 1-13.

Chernilo, D. (2007). A quest for universalism: Re-assessing the nature of classical social theory’s cosmopolitanism. European Journal of Social Theory, 10(1).

Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S., . . . Sheridan, J. F. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65(4), 564-570.

Davidson, R. J., & Harrington, A. (Eds.) (2002). Visions of compassion: Western Scientists and Tibetan Buddhists examine human nature. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Davidson, R. J., & Kaszniak, A.W. (2015). Conceptual and methodological issues in research on mindfulness and meditation. American Psychologist, 70(7), 581-592.

Davies, W. (2014). The happiness industry: How the government and big business sold us well-being. Brooklyn, NY: Verso.

Davis, J. H. (2015). Facing up to the question of ethics in mindfulness-based interventions. Mindfulness, 6, 46-48.

Davis, D. M., & Hayes, J. A. (2012). What are the benefits of mindfulness. Monitor on Psychology, 43(7), 64.

DeBerry, S., Davis, S., & Reinhard, K. E. (1989). A comparison of meditation-relaxation and cognitive/behavioral techniques for reducing anxiety and depression in a geriatric population. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 22(2), 231-247.

DelVecchio Good, M., James, C., Good, B. J., & Becker, A. E. (2005). The culture of medicine and racial, ethnic, and class disparities in healthcare. In M. Romero & E. Margolis (Eds.),The Blackwell Companion to Social Inequalities. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Dimidjian, S., & Segal, Z. V. (2015). Prospects for a clinical science of mindfulness-based intervention.American Psychologist, 70(7), 593-620.

Dodson-Lavelle, B. (2015). Against one method: Toward a critical-constructive approach to the adaptation and implementation of Buddhist-based contemplative programs in the United States. Atlanta, GA: Emory University.

Droit-Volet, S., Fanget, M., & Dambrun, M. (2015). Mindfulness meditation and relaxation training increases time sensitivity. Consciousness and Cognition, 31(1), 86-97.

Engel, G. L. (1977). The need for a new medical model: A challenge for biomedicine. Science, 196, 129-136.

Feldman, G. C., Hayes, A. M., Kumar, S. M., Greeson, J. M., & Laurenceau, J. P. (2007). Mindfulness and emotion regulation: The development and initial validation of the Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale-Revised (CAMS-R). Journal of Psychopathology & Behavioral Assessment, 11(3), 177-190.

Friedman, H.S., & Adler, N.E. (2011). The intellectual roots of health psychology. In H.S. Friedman (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of health psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Gergen, K. J. (1973). Social psychology as history. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 26, 309-320.

Goleman, D. (1971). Meditation as meta-therapy: Hypotheses towards a proposed fifth state of consciousness. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 3(1), 1-25

Gooch, A. (2014). Mindfulness as a secular spirituality. In M. Bazzano (Ed.), After mindfulness: New perspectives on psychology and meditation. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.Goyal, M., Singh, S., Sibinga, E. S., Gould, N. F., Rowland-Seymour, A., Ritu, A., . . . Haythornthwaite, J. A. (2014). Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, 174(3), 357-368.

Grogan, J. (2012). Encountering America: Humanistic psychology, sixties culture, and the shaping of the modern self. New York, NY: Harper Perennial

Harrington, A. (2008). The cure within: A history of mind-body medicine. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co.

Harrington, A., & Dunne, J. D. (2015). When mindfulness is therapy: Ethical qualms, historical perspectives. American Psychologist, 70(7), 621-631.

Hayes, S. C., Villatte, M., Levin, M., &Hildebrandt, M. (2011). Open, aware, and active: Contextual approaches as an emerging trend in the behavioral and cognitive therapies. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 7, 141-168.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York, NY: Delacorte.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York, NY: Hyperion.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2011). Some reflections on the origins of MBSR, skillful means, and the trouble with maps. Contemporary Buddhism, 12(1), 281-306.

Kahn, M., Ilcisin, M., & Saxton, K. (2017). Multifactorial discrimination as a fundamental cause of mental health inequities. International Journal for Equity in Health, 16(1), 1-12.

Kaplan, R. M. (2009). Health psychology: Where are we and where do we go from here? Mens Sana Monographs, 7(1), 3-9.

Kaplan, R. M. (2011). Uncertainty, variability, and resource allocation in the health care decision process. In H.S. Friedman (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of health psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Koszycki, D., Benger, M, Shlik, J., & Bradwejn, J. (2007). Randomized trial of a meditation-based stress reduction program and cognitive behavior therapy in generalized social anxiety disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 45(10), 2518-2526.

Langer, E. J., & Moldoveanu, M. (2000). The construct of mindfulness. Journal of Social Issues, 56(1), 1-9.

Langer, E. J. (1989). Mindfulness. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Langer, E. J. (1997). The power of mindful learning. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley

Lawrence, W., & Barker, M. (2016). Improving the health of the public: What is the role of health psychologists? Journal of Health Psychology, 21(2), 135-137.

Lau, M. A., Bishop, S. R., Segal, Z. V., Buis, T., Anderson, N. D., Carlson, L., . . . Carmody, J. (2006). The Toronto Mindfulness Scale: Development and validation. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62(12), 1445-1467.

Lopez, D. S. (2008). Buddhism and science: A guide for the perplexed. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Lopez, D. S. (2012). The scientific Buddha: His short and happy life. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Lutz, A., Slagter, H. A., Dunne, J. D., & Davidson, R. J. (2008). Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12(4), 163-169.

Lutz, A., Jha, A. P., Dunne, J. D., & Saron, C. D. (2015). Investigating the phenomenological matrix of mindfulness-related practices from a neurocognitive perspective. American Psychologist, 70(7), 632-658.

Matarazzo, J. D. (1980). Behavioral health and behavioral medicine: Frontiers for a new health psychology, American Psychologist, 35, 807-817.

McCann, W. J., Marion, G. S., Davis, S. W., Crandall, S. J., & Hildebrandt, C. A. (2015). Applied relaxation and applied mindfulness (ARAM): A practical and engaging approach for mind-body regulation training in medical education. Annals of Behavioral Science and Medical Education, 19(2), 10-15.

McMahan, D. (2008). The making of Buddhist Modernism. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Murray, M. (2012). Critical health psychology and the scholar-activist tradition. In C. Horrocks & S. Johnson (Eds.),Advances in health psychology: Critical approaches. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Murray, M. (2014). Social history of health psychology: Context and textbooks. Health Psychology Review, 8, 215-237.

Murray, M. (2015). Introducing critical health psychology. In M. Murray (Ed.), Critical Health Psychology (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ozawa de Silva, B. & Lobsang, T. N. (2013). Cognitively-Based Compassion Training ‒ Protocol and key concepts. In T. Singer & M. Bolz (Eds.),Compassion: Bridging theory and practice. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute.

Pickren, W. E., & Degni, S. (2011). A history of the development of health psychology. In H.S. Friedman (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of health psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Putnam, H. (1992). Renewing philosophy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Rabinbach, A. (1992). The human motor: Energy, fatigue, and the origins of modernity. Berkeley & Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

Raffone, A., & Srinivasan, N. (2010). The exploration of meditation in the neuroscience of attention and consciousness. Cognitive Processing, 11(1), 1-7.

Segal, Z., Teasdale, J., &Williams, M. (2002). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression. New York, NY: Guilford Press

Shapiro, S. L., Schwartz, G. E. R., & Santerre, C. (2002). Meditation and positive psychology. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.),Handbook of positive psychology. New York, NY: Oxford.

Shapiro, D. H. (1980). Meditation: Self-regulatory strategy and altered state of consciousness. New York, NY: Aldine.

Smith, G. T., Spillane, N. S.,& Annus A.M. (2006). Implications of an emerging integration of universal and culturally-specific psychologies. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 1(3), 211-233.

Stam, H. (2015). A critical history of health psychology and its relationship to biomedicine. In M. Murray (Ed.), Critical Health Psychology (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Talbot-Zorn, J., & Edgette, F. (2016). Mindfulness can help strategy, too. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/05/mindfulness-can-improve-strategy-too

Tafreshi, D., Slaney, K. L., & Neufeld, S. D. (2016). Quantification in psychology: Critical analysis of an unreflective practice. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, Advance Online Publication. http://doi.org/10.1037/teo0000048

Tang, Y. Y., Hölzel, B. K., & Posner, M. I. (2015). The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16(4), 213-225.

Tang, Y. Y., & Posner, M. I. (2013). Tools of the trade: Theory and method in mindfulness neuroscience. Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, 8(1), 118-120.

Tang, Y. Y., Ma, Y., Wang, J., Fan, Y., Feng, S., Lu, Q., . . . Posner, M. I. (2007). Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(43), 17152-17156.

Tloczynski, J., & Tantriella, M. (1998). A comparison of the effects of Zen breath meditation or relaxation on college adjustment. Psychologia: An International Journal of Psychology in the Orient, 41(1), 32-43.

Vestergaard-Poulsen, P., van Beek, M., Skewes, J., Bjarkam, C. R., Stubberup, M., Bertelsen, J., & Roepstorff, A. (2009). Long-term meditation is associated with increased gray matter density in the brain stem. Neuroreport, 20(2), 170-174.

Wallston, K. A. (1997). A history of Division 38 (Health Psychology). In D. A. Dewsbury (Ed.),Unification through Division: Histories of the divisions of the American Psychological Association (vol. 2). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Wilks, J. (2014). Secular mindfulness: Potential and pitfalls. Insight Journal. Barre, MA: Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.Will, A., Rancea, M., Monsef, I., Wockel, A., Engert, A., & Skoetz, N. (2015) Mindfulness-based stress reduction for women diagnosed with breast cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2.



Como Citar

Lee, S. F., & Young, J. L. (2018). Mind the Gap: The History and Philosophy of Health Psychology and Mindfulness. Revista Psicologia E Saúde, 10(2), 25–39. https://doi.org/10.20435/pssa.v10i2.693