NEW YORKThe current hype surrounding the mind-body connection
has prompted people diagnosed with cancer to ask themselves if their
personality, their emotions, or the stress in their lives somehow led
to their cancer. This, in turn, has produced the negative phenomenon
of blaming the victim.
In a new book, Jimmie C. Holland, MD, takes on what she calls
the tyranny of positive thinking and shows why it can
actually pose a threat to a cancer patients physical and
Dr. Holland has been chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and
Behavioral Sciences at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for
more than 20 years and is also professor and vice-chairman of
psychiatry at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New
York. She wrote The Human Side of Cancer: Coping With Uncertainty,
Living With Hope (Harper-Collins Publishers) with Sheldon Lewis,
a senior editor at Healthy Living magazine.
The book cuts through the confusion about the role that attitudes,
emotions, stress, loss, and personality play in causing or curing
cancer, presenting the true state of the science in this area. Dr.
Holland explores what cancer does psychologically to people with
cancer and their families, and offers sound advice on how each person
must use his or her own coping style that has worked in the past.
The Human Side of Cancer draws on Dr. Hollands extensive
experience talking to cancer patients to address the broad range of
issues that they and their families face during cancer diagnosis and
treatment. Compelling case histories lend credibility and heart to
the books text.
In addition to dispelling myths and beliefs about cancer, the book:
Discusses how patients emotions influence their ability
to seek appropriate care and tolerate treatment.
Provides the most up-to-date information about mind/body remedies.
Describes initial responses to the cancer diagnosis and the
importance of getting competent, compassionate care, plus tips for
forming a positive patient-doctor relationship.
Gives guidelines on when to seek psychological help.
Explains the most common types of cancer and the psychological
issues related to each of them.
Looks at the psychological effects of different treatments and
how to deal with them.
Details the range of psychological treatments, including
individual and group counseling, cognitive-behavioral techniques,
medications, relaxation, meditation, prayer, spiritual practices, and
creative therapies such as art therapy.
Reviews alternative and complementary therapies such as
acupuncture, yoga, acupressure, therapeutic massage and ginger root
tea, and offers Dos and Donts for combining
them with conventional cancer treatments.
Addresses the psychological baggage attached to being a cancer
survivor and how to deal with fears about recurrence.
Lists guidelines for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and for
proper screening to ensure early detection.
Tells what the family of a patient with cancer must deal with,
emotionally and physically.
Dr. Holland also tackles the issues patients and families face when
the cancer cannot be cured: the devastating emotional response to
news of recurrence or spread of cancer; how patients and families
seek to make a tolerable meaning out of advancing illness; and how
families find ways to keep coping with their grief and carry on
without their loved one.
Rather than dictating a single one-size-fits-all prescription for
coping, Dr. Holland breaks fresh ground as she points out the
importance of respecting and validating each patients own
personal ways of coping with illness.