Psychological Aspects of Cancer
The connection between the mind and the body is nothing new to those involved in the practice and process of psychology. Stress, a term that represents a variety of emotional states, has been proven to adversely impact the immune system. Chronic repressed emotions and chronic stress can reduce immune function, making a person more susceptible to diseases, including cancer.
From a psychological perspective, disease can be the result of blocked emotions. In the Eastern medical model, disease occurs when the natural flows of energy in the body are blocked. If this is true, psychotherapy may be a most critical intervention for the people whose psychological blocks may have contributed to or resulted in their disease. If a belief that a person is unworthy of the positive things that life has to offer is embedded in the subconscious, then the person may not feel worthy of healing. It is also possible the person has lost their "zest" for life, which may adversely affect the immune system. In either case, the various forms of physical interventions may be falling on infertile ground. Physical interventions may be treating symptoms. In these cases, the form of treatment may not matter as much as preparing the body to be receptive to healing.
My personal belief is that for many cancers, psychological factors are of considerable importance. At the very least, psychotherapy can increase the quality of your life, no matter how much time you have left, because it will help you cope with this most stressful and fearful time. Psychotherapy may have the added benefit of clearing any emotional baggage that might be in the way of your healing.
Unfortunately, at the mention of psychological influences, many people immediately assume that there are no aspects of their past that could negatively impact their healing. Since this material is unconscious and denied, it is difficult for a person to accurately judge this within themselves. Seeing if you fit any of the cancer profile characteristics (see Cancer Information- Cancer Personality Characteristics) information is a good starting point. Many people are also frightened by psychotherapy. Fortunately, Psychologist Lawrence LeShan has developed a less threatening and more effective therapy specifically for people with cancer (see LeShan video). If I wanted to maximize my odds for survival, I would seek out a competent psychotherapist (versed in LeShan's approach) to share in my quest for life.
Cancer as a Turning Point: A Hand
book for People With Cancer, Their Families, and Health Professionals,
by Lawrence LeShan Ph.D. An absolute must read for people with
cancer. Contains LeShan's suggestions for finding a therapist.
Human Operator's Manual:
How Feelings Work, A Psychological Primer By Stuart Zelman,
Ph.D., and David Bognar. This book is a psychological primer,
a manual on understanding feelings and how people function internally.
Although not specifically cancer related, this self-published
book is an excellent summary of the state-of-the-art knowledge
about feelings which can be useful healing information for cancer
patients and their families.
Hour three of the documentary seriesCANCER: Increasing
Your Odds for Survival is devoted to helping people understand
and apply mind/body medicine and applying psychological techniques
in the treatment of cancer.
CANCER: A Turning Point - An Interview with Dr.
Lawrence LeShan describes psychologist LeShan's research into
the psychological aspects of cancer and his development and application
of a new therapeutic approach that claims a 50% cancer remission
rate. Video includes a wealth of information for cancer patients