Over and over again I have seen one of two things happen when the total environment of the person with cancer is mobilized for life and his or her inner ecology is thereby changed in a positive way. The more we learn about human biology and psychology, the more we learn about how to change and improve the quality and ambience of life both internal and external, the more this second result may become commonplace.
That surely is the hope of this book. To get angry and shout at times pleases me, for this will keep up your natural heat; but what displeases me is your being grieved and taking all matters to heart. For it is this, as the whole of physic teaches, which destroys our body more than any other cause.
A Turning Point | Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
Maria was a Brazilian physician who loved her work as a pediatrician. Her husband was an electrical engineer who wanted only to be a poet. He hated his field of work, at which he was actually quite successful professionally. Their twin daughters, aged fifteen and a half when I first saw Maria, were apparently of very high artistic caliber. Both wanted to be actresses and had already had minor parts on the stage in small theaters. When the daughters were ten, their talent was recognized by a well-known theatrical director.
Maria could not, however, find work in London as a pediatrician that would bring in the necessary income for the needs of her family. The position she had been promised failed to materialize at the last moment. She disliked the work intensely, but continued it in order to support her husband and daughters. She also hated London and constantly missed Rio, where she had grown up.
She described with enthusiasm and gusto the lovely beaches, the gentle climate, the easygoing and tolerant attitudes of the people, the striking architecture, and the friends she had had there: Every street felt like my own living room. At the age of forty-eight, she noticed a lump in her breast. She did nothing about this for over a year. By the time she had it examined by a professional colleague, it had grown several times larger.
The diagnosis was adenocarcinoma of the breast. A course of chemotherapy was decided on, but everyone agreed that the prognosis was very poor. I was speaking at her hospital in London during this period, and afterward she asked me for a professional appointment. We talked for an hour about her history and about her hopes and fears for the future. She saw no possibility of work that she would enjoy, of living where she would like to, or of a life that would make her glad and excited to get out of bed in the morning. Her husband and her children were very happy with their lives and she was successful enough to enable them to continue it.
Rather brutally, because I felt I had to shock her into taking some action on her own behalf, I asked her how she planned to continue supporting them in the style to which they had grown accustomed after she was in the cemetery, as her cancer prognosis was so poor. She looked completely defeated.
After a long pause she said: I had hoped that you would know a road for me. I then said that I could see no reason for her body to work hard to save her life, no reason for it to mobilize her immune system and bring its resources to the aid of the chemotherapy. Everyone else would be taken care of except her. Clearly she was telling herself that she was not worth fighting for. It was clearly an emergency situation.
She was in very bad shape both physically and emotionally and clearly going downhill on both levels. There was little to lose. I would be leaving London in a few days and I have never been very good working over the telephone or by mail. The philosopher and spiritual leader Edgar Jackson has pointed out that in some situations, the careful man is only a short step away from the paltry man.
I told Maria the story of the woman who was sunbathing nude. A lovely chickadee flew down and perched on her ankle. She smiled lovingly at it. Then a great orange-and-black butterfly alighted on her knee. Again she smiled warmly. A magnificent dragonfly with its iridescent wings settled on her shoulder.
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It also received her welcoming smile, as did a beautiful goldfinch that came down and perched on her toes. Then a mosquito came down, settled on her breast, and bit her. At the punchline, Maria laughed much harder than the joke deserved. Then she sat apparently thinking very intently for several minutes. Finally she looked at me and an impish and devilish grin spread across her face. She was as ready for action as a tomcat with its tail up. She had only needed a direction and a trigger. I had provided the direction in my lecture, and our discussion was the trigger. It was a pleasure to watch her move.
That night Maria called a family conference and announced apparently in no uncertain terms that it was her turn now. Changes would have to be made as she could no longer afford to support her entire family. If she died they were all on their own anyway, so they might as well all take a desperate and final chance to help her immune system come to the aid of the chemotherapy. She had, she told them, been an oncologist long enough to know that with a cancer like hers, this was the only chance. In order to help this happen, there needed to be some major changes in her and their life-styles.
First, she said, her husband: Certainly they could work as salesgirls, waitresses, or whatever during summer and Christmas vacations unless they had professional employment. The maid would go and all of them would pitch in with the housework. She herself was going to give up her job, take a residency in pediatrics in order to catch up with the latest techniques, and then take it from there.
Moving back to Brazil when the twins were established and on their own was left as a possibility for the future. It must have been quite a family meeting. In the next six months her husband obtained a fairly low-level job in an engineering firm. He said it demanded little of him and left him with a good deal of energy for his poetry. These books paid him the very small amount that books of poetry generally do.
The daughters did get part-time jobs and expressed a good deal of resentment about having to do so. They complained in typically adolescent fashion and constantly had to be reminded about their household chores. Both paid for their acting lessons and also obtained a number of small jobs making television commercials and in obscure, avant-garde theaters. Maria resigned from her oncology position and took a residency in pediatrics.
After a year she began working full time in this field. She was paid far less than she had earned in oncology, but enjoyed it far more. At my suggestion, she had also consulted a nutritionist in order to upgrade her diet and to help both to potentiate the chemotherapy treatment and to avoid the worst negative side effects.
I kept in touch with her. The chemotherapy program worked far beyond expectations. The tumor masses shrank but did not disappear. At present, four years later, the medical situation seems at least temporarily stabilized and is on a watch-and-wait basis. She feels that her life is rich and exciting. Summer vacations have been spent in Rio de Janeiro. Since money is so short she has gone by herself most of the time. They have not yet decided whether or not to move back there in the next few years.
The work that led to this book began in when a psychologist friend of mine, Dr. Richard Worthington, told me that he had been looking at personality tests of several people with cancer. He felt that their emotional life history somehow played a part in the development of their illness, and that this should be investigated. Dick is the best person with these kinds of personality tests I have ever known—he has a brilliant and profound understanding of them—and I had learned never to ignore anything of this sort that he said.
I tucked the idea away in the back of my mind for future exploration. Two years later I was back in the army. The County Medical Society had a library that had been started in the early s. Since then, all the local physicians had willed their books to it. I began to go there evenings. The higher cancer mortality rates for widows and widowers that were not related to age, occupation, reproductive accomplishment, diet, or any other obvious factor were only one example of the evidence that there was something here worth looking into.
When I again left the army two years later, I talked to Dick about what I had found. He called a group of businessmen together, we both made a pitch, formed a foundation, and raised enough money to support me half time for a year.
I stayed on the project full time for fourteen years and part time for another twenty-two. This book is the result of that work. As I began to work intensively, the first thing I found was that up to the relationship between cancer and psychological factors had been commonly accepted in medical circles. I went through the major cancer textbooks of the nineteenth century using the old rule of thumb that if it went through three editions, it qualified as a major textbook.
All but one of the nineteen I found said the same thing: What had happened was plain. Dedicated nineteenth-century physicians working with cancer patients had none of the sophisticated instruments and devices we have today. Without biochemical tests and without X rays, to say nothing of CAT scans computerized axial tomography and the like, they had to listen to their patients in order to learn what was going on. The factors of great emotional loss and of hopelessness occurring before the first signs of the cancer were so repetitive and frequent that they could not be ignored.
Here is not the place to review that extensive literature. Emerson, upon the Death of her Daughter, underwent Great Affliction, and perceived her Breast to swell, which soon after grew Painful; at last broke out in a most inveterate Cancer, which consumed a great Part of it in a short Time. She had always enjoyed a perfect state of Health.
The Wife of Mate of a Ship who was taken some Time ago by the French and put in Prison was thereby so much affected that her Breast began to swell, and soon after broke out in a desperate Cancer which had proceeded so far that I could not undertake her case. She never before had any complaint in her Breast. In a group of the leading physicians in England and Wales formed an organization with the optimistic and cheerful name of The Society for the Prevention and Cure of Cancer.
They published a list of eleven questions, each describing an area in which they felt the need for further research. This became the definitive work of the period. He covered all that was then known about the subject. Much has been written on the influence of mental misery, sudden reverses of fortune, and habitual gloominess of temper on the deposion of carcinomatous matter. If systematic writers can be credited, these constitute the most powerful cause of the disease;.
I have myself met with cases in which the connection appeared so clear that I have decided questioning its reality would have seemed a struggle against reason. Walshe made certain recommendations to members of families with a history of cancer, which illustrate the strength of his belief in this viewpoint.
He advised them to use great care in their choice of professions, avoiding those. The importance of this consideration appears from what I have said on the influence of mental suffering in generating the disease. For this reason, the professions of the Bar, Medicine and Diplomacy should be avoided. All things considered, the professions of the Army, Navy and the Church, unless there be some special objection, offer the best chance of escape from the diseases to individuals predisposed to cancer.
By implication, Walshe was clearly stating that a genetic readiness plus a long-term psychological stress results in cancer.
In this country, Willard Parker summed up in his fifty-three years of surgical experience with cancer. It is a fact that grief is especially associated with the disease. If cancer patients were as a rule cheerful before the malignant development made its appearance, the psychological theory, no matter how logical, must fail: The fact substantiates what reason points out. The cases are so frequent in which deep anxiety, deferred hope and disappointment are quickly followed by the growth and increase of cancer, that we can hardly doubt that mental depression is a weighty additive to the other influences favoring the development of the cancerous constitution.
Great mental stress has been assigned as influential in hastening the development of cancerous disease in persons already predisposed.
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In my long life of experience, I have so often noticed this sequence that I cannot but think the imputation is true. In three books written in , , and , he presented in detail his research findings and his concepts. In his last book, he wrote:. We are logically impelled to inquire if the great majority of cases may not own a neurotic origin? We find that the number of instances in which malignant disease of the breast and uterus follows immediately antecedent emotion of a depressing character is too large to be set down to chance, or to that general liability to the buffets of ill fortune which the cancer patients , in their passage through life, share with most other people not so afflicted.
The physicians who wrote these statements were the leading specialists of the time. Their names are even today well known in medical circles. At that point, this viewpoint began to disappear very rapidly from the textbooks and journals. There are a number of reasons for this. The psychosomatic viewpoint had been going more and more out of fashion for fifty years.
Further, surgery that was both painless and antiseptic had been developed in the preceding fifteen years and was now making its big bid as the way to deal with cancer. Radiation, coming along shortly thereafter as a therapy method, reinforced this concept of cancer as a local body problem. Another reason for the change was that a psychosomatic theory was useless at this time. Psychiatry was barely into the descriptive phase, and there were no tools with which to explore the matter further or to use to try to intervene in the processes involved.
There was simply nothing to do with the information on the mind-body relationship in cancer—no techniques available to use to make it useful. So, gradually, the idea that cancer was related to the total life history of the person disappeared from the literature and from the currently accepted concepts in medicine. A few physicians tried to keep it alive, but to no avail. For half a century it was almost unknown. The situation has now changed completely. Further, we now have the techniques and tools to explore the matter much more deeply, and many such studies have been undertaken.
A good example of the predictive studies is the work of Ronald Greer and his group. Greer interviewed a number of women who had had mastectomies. On the basis of the interview three months after the operation he divided them into classes according to their attitudes. He then simply observed what happened to the women for over fifteen years. He found out that, as he had predicted, some classes showed a statistically significantly higher survival rate than others.
A great many studies are now available. A list of some of the most significant and of some reviews of this literature is presented in the Resource Directory. A recent study by David Spiegel and others reported in The Lancet shows that psychological treatment had a definite, positive effect on women with metastasized breast cancer. However, at the time I started the research that led to this book, the present-day literature was skimpy indeed.
There were no guidelines that could be depended on. All I knew was that there were enough strong clues to make the subject really worth investigation. In , with a research grant and enough clinical and research training to do legitimate work, I applied to the leading hospitals in New York City. I fully expected to have no difficulty in finding a place to work, since the purpose of the grant was simply to investigate the fruitfulness of looking at cancer as a disease whose presence and development were influenced by personality factors. To my surprise, the first fifteen hospitals I applied to turned me down, sometimes with shocking rapidity.
Soon, however, I developed an excellent working relationship with Dr. Emanuel Revici and his Institute of Applied Biology, and for the next twelve years I worked full time with his patients. I started with psychological interviews of two to eight hours in length and various kinds of personality tests. As I progressed I reported my work in psychological and psychiatric journals. After a number of years, I moved very gradually into psychotherapy work with the patients of the Institute and of Trafalgar Hospital.
It seemed to me then, and it still does, that the best way a professional can get to know people, their history and the world in which they live, is to be involved in a psychotherapy process with them. The stories of people with cancer that I present throughout this book are typical of the people I worked with for over thirty-five years. The single thing that emerged most clearly during my work was the context in which the cancer developed.
Now the meaning of the statistics showing the higher likelihood of cancer in widows and widowers, regardless of age, began to be clear. Among the widowed were many who had made the spouse, the marriage, the central focus of their lives; it was what gave meaning to their existence, and after the spouse died they could find no other way to express themselves.
Similar was the explanation for the fact that for men, the highest peak of cancer came shortly after retirement age, whether that age was sixty, sixty-five, seventy, or any other. I am certain the explanation of this is that when the relationship between the spouses was lost, but they stayed together for religious or other reasons, the children provided a good way of relating for many. It was also lower among those married couples who made the spouse the beneficiary of their insurance policies than those who did not!
I was able to make over thirty predictions on statistically reliable differences in cancer mortality rates in various groups. I could predict which groups would have a higher rate of loss of a major way of relating; according to my predictions, this group would also have a higher mortality rate. Whenever these predictions could be checked against published statistics, they were proved correct. The professional publications on these findings are given in the Resource Directory.
With many other individuals I saw and worked with, there had been no objective loss of a relationship, but there had been a loss of hope that the way that they used to express themselves, and the relationships they had, would ever give the deep satisfaction they wanted so much.
No matter how successful they were, no matter how high they climbed in their profession, they found that it did not provide fulfillment. They could not find lasting zest and pleasure in their success and eventually had given up hope of ever finding it. The profound hopelessness was, in many of the people I saw, followed by the appearance of cancer.
Over and over again I found that the person I was working with reminded me of the poet W. As this pattern became clearer, I also began to work with control groups , people without cancer to whom I gave the same personality tests and worked with in the same way in psychotherapy. Over a period of many years, I found this pattern of loss of hope in between 70 and 80 percent of my cancer patients and in only 10 percent or so of the control group. Sydney was a successful businessman whose high drive and a wide-ranging and quick intelligence had helped him achieve a very high position in his field.
He had always believed in keeping the channels of promotion open in his company for new blood and new ideas, so, at sixty-five when he had been chief executive officer and chairman of the board for five years, he retired. When I asked him several years later what he had expected to do with his still-high energy level, he looked a little blank and said that he had thought tennis and golf would be wonderful and that now he would have had a chance to play as much as he wanted to. Indeed for a year he did play both of these a good deal.
He was a natural athlete and before World War II had played Class A baseball with a good chance of going to the major leagues; the draft and a stint in the paratroops ended this option. Sydney still played well and was much in demand from the members of a number of country clubs to play golf and tennis with them.
Now it was somehow not enough. He was hungry for something, but did not know that. Then Sydney went to Scotland with a group to play at one of the great golf courses there. At a luxurious hotel he played golf with a very congenial group every morning and tennis most afternoons. The weather was pure gold and wonderful.
After five days he woke up one morning and found, to his shock and surprise, that he was wishing it would rain so that he would not have to continue his schedule. At around this time he began to develop some digestive symptoms and after a medical workup was diagnosed as having cancer of the small intestine.
After finishing with both surgery and the course of chemotherapy that followed it, Sydney sat around the house a good deal, watching television and reading newspapers. He felt vaguely depressed and lost. Nothing interested him very much. He felt tired and run-down all the time.
A year after the chemotherapy was completed a new metastasis was found and a second course was instituted. During this period we began to work together. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. There was a problem filtering reviews right now.
Please try again later. It would have given me strength and vision through what became of very rough year. How would this book have helped me? We all need hope. At the age of 18, upon graduating from high school, Charlie Kirk set off upon an adventure; much like Ulysses, having no idea whether or not his mission would succeed.
That was in Charlie and Brent might have subtitled this book: Back to the Future of our First Principles which is essentially the title of chapter 2! Our hero is born 25 years forward, and we walk with him through a rich and fulfilling life of First Principles based freedom for roughly 75 years, landing in the second decade of the 22nd century. My own offering is: And, if you have a different hashtag to offer, by all means do! We need to free America again, on the basis of First Principles. To read this book is, and without question, a political act all unto itself, on the road to righting our ship of state.
One person found this helpful. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. Great book written by an amazing young man. Some really good ideas for fixing the economy. Pleased with the book. American Universities are in serious trouble with their prohibition of free thinking on the part of students. The backlash is sure to be terrible. Then along comes Charlie Kirk with a solution -- and a brilliant one, at that. With the immediacy of the issues discussed and the clarity brought to their resolution, this book should have a great impact throwing off the suppression of our nation's youth.
In my experience, the very best books are those which, when you read them, you say to yourself, "Of course! Why didn't anyone else think of that? Quite an insightful book by some one so young. Hope to get the rest of the family to read it! This book continues the great work of Charlie Kirk and Turning Point in giving voice to the ideas needed to have America's next generation grasp the principles which propelled the country to its world leadership. See all 16 reviews.
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