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March 5, 1982

Psychotherapeutic Treatment of Cancer Patients

JAMA. 1982;247(9):1351. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320340097063

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


The cancer patient is the outcast of our times. Because of its unknown etiology, cancer stirs an unconscious disquiet and fear in us. Patients soon notice that, little by little, they become isolated. Even relatives stop coming to call. As one author in this book puts it, the cancer patient is the leper of the 20th century.

Patients feel that an ominous internal invasion of their body is taking place. There follows a feeling of hopelessness with a reversion to early infantile helplessness. It is at this point that patients turn to their physician. Should not physicians be equipped to offer skillful, essential psychological support as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy?

This book attempts to address this issue in presenting psychotherapeutic methods available to aid physicians helping their cancer patients to cope with the stresses of their illness. It also deals with theoretical constructs of cancer as a psychosomatic manifestation.