Stress, Psychosomatics, and Psycho-Oncology
The history of the development of ideas about the role of stress in the occurrence of cancer. Data is provided and analyzed on how acute stress becomes chronic, and why it causes psychosomatic diseases.
Predisposition to Cancer: Disorders of Individual Development
It is reported that increased sensitivity to stress can be inherited by a person from the moment of conception and/or arise in the womb. This creates vulnerability to disease (predisposition), which may increase with trauma at birth, and can progress with an unhappy childhood. As a result, a specific “cancer” personality type arises.
Factors of Provocation: Unresolved Psychic Trauma or Intrapersonal Conflict
People who have not learned to cope with stresses are plunged into the anxieties that follow a traumatic event (for example, the death of a loved one) for a very long time. Or they are not able to satisfy the needs they consider important, such as love, respect, and freedom of expression; and this lack provokes severe intrapersonal conflicts. The result in both cases is chronic oncogenic psycho-physiological stress.
The Precancerous State
This part goes into how prolonged, unresolved suffering leads a person to a state of psychological “suffocation,” or feeling of suppressed subordination, and then helplessness and depression. Hope of an opportunity to live in a better way, to be what he/she wants is lost. This creates a precancerous condition. However, a potential patient is often not consciously aware of these feelings and thoughts, because of the habit of avoiding negative emotions.
Initialization: Losing One’s Will to Live and Unconscious Suicide
Depression, helplessness, and hopelessness deplete a person’s energy and create a spiritual-existential crisis. This often results in a subconscious desire to get rid of one’s problematic life (unconscious suicide). Heavy distress destroys the immune system as well as other bodily systems of anti-cancer protection. In the psyche arises an oncodominant (a dominating psycho-physiological formation with a function of host self-destruction), which triggers a deadly illness.
Will a Tumor Develop or Degrade? Promotion and Progression as a Result of Distress Activation
Timely awareness of his/her life problems, turning to psychotherapy and finding a way out of his/her crisis, can stop the growth of the tumor at an early stage, and even prompt its regression. Otherwise, the disease continues to develop. A powerful subsequent psychic trauma resulting from diagnosis and treatment significantly activates distress and therefore deepens the crisis. This worsens the prognosis of the disease and contributes to metastasis.
The Outcome and Consequences of Cancer
In this part, it is proved that a lack of qualified psychological assistance after the end of one’s treatment may lead to mental disorders, deepening of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and most importantly—to the progression and/or recurrence of the disease.
In contrast, using psychotherapy, integrative rehabilitation, and spiritual awakening leads to post-traumatic growth that activates the patient’s own healing resources, restoring the immune system and leading to a stable remission. Data on the spontaneous disappearance of the tumor due to psycho-spiritual transformation and the “reset” of the meaning of life is provided.
Summarizing the presented research, the author suggests a “roadmap”—an integrative scheme of the development and course of oncological diseases, from the point of view of a biopsychosocio-spiritual model of medicine. The way in which this system can be used is demonstrated in the clinical example of the illness of movie star Audrey Hepburn.
The necessity of an extensive involvement of the psychotherapeutic approach in cancer treatment, especially in supporting the active influence of the psyche on the disease, is discussed. The author comes to the conclusion that the recommendations of the ancient spiritual and philosophical teachings are more important than ever for the psycho-spiritual prevention of all diseases.