The term “somatology” comes from Greek roots meaning “body” and “study,” so somatology is the study of the body. This term is used in a number of different ways to describe a variety of activities related to studying the body. Several colleges and universities have departments of somatology which may cover various aspects of this field. The confused uses of this term can sometimes be disorienting, but the meaning of the term is usually clear from the context of a discussion.
In one sense, somatology is the study of the body in the sense of anatomy and physiology, to learn about how the parts of the body work together. In this sense, somatology can also refer more generally to the properties associated with living organisms other than humans. The study of anatomy and physiology is important for medical practice, among other things, and is practiced in numerous colleges and universities all over the world.
People who work in this area of somatology study a variety of topics related to the body and how it functions. They may be interested in pathology, studying what happens when the body is injured or diseased, and they may also be interested in topics like biomechanics, studying the movement and articulation of the body. Training in this field can be applied to the practice of physical therapy, pathology, and many allied medical professions.
Some people may refer to physical anthropology as “somatology.” In this sense, people are interested in studying the human body as it appears in different cultures, and as it has evolved over time. Somatology can be used to learn more about a specific individual after death, and also to learn more about collective cultures and the history of humans and their close relatives. Somatologists can study topics such as human osteology, human evolution, and primate morphology as part of their work, and they can be found in the field and in the lab.
Some practitioners of alternative medicine may also refer to what they do as somatology. In this sense, the term is used to refer to the study and treatment of the body as a whole, with the application of techniques such as massage, herbal medicine, acupuncture, guided imagery, and so forth to patients. Some people in this branch of the field may focus on providing people with sources of relaxation, with some spas and massage studios referencing somatology in their promotional materials.