“A human person is a being in relationship—biologically, psychologically, socially, and transcendently.”
– Daniel P. Sulmasy MD, PhD., OFM, author of The Rebirth of the Clinic: An Introduction to Spirituality in Health Care
We hear a lot today about body, mind, and spirit within medicine and research. Many medical professionals have realized that focusing our health efforts only on biology or physical aspect of health doesn’t work. As such, the biopsychosocial-spiritual model of health has gained popularity in recent years. That begs the question, what is the composition of the human being?
To answer that question, I’ve spent the last decade or more studying, researching, and digging deep into what makes us human beings. I’ve come to believe that humans are made of up 3 different parts AND 4 relationships.
The three parts, which are both material and immaterial, are:
Body, Mind, and Spirit (Heart/Will).
The four relationships, as Dr. Sumalsy puts above, are:
Biological (physical), psychological (Mental and emotional), social, and transcendent (spiritual).
Total Person: The 4 Dimensions of the Human Being (Soul)
The late renowned professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California, Dallas Willard, argued that the soul is the total person. In other words, a soul is a complete human being and is made up of 4 major distinct but interconnected parts.
The soul is made up of four relationships:
- Mind (Thoughts / Emotions)
- Spirit (Will/heart)
- Social connectedness / Relationships
Willard’s view of the soul.
From years of researching and looking into these matters, I think this view that the human being is made up of 3 integral parts and 4 relationships lines up the most with what I see in both ancient and modern literature.
To put it simply, we are Body, Emotional and mental beings, Social, and Transcendental (spiritual) beings. When we view people completely as they are, we are able to not simply heal the body but also the soul.