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October 8, 1982

Breast Cancer: The Psychological Effects of the Disease and Its Treatment

JAMA. 1982;248(14):1762. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330140070046

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Certain parts of the body are more heavily invested with significance and emotionality than others. The heart, for example, has been long and widely extolled in literature and fable. Emerson, in "Ode to Beauty," advocates, "Obey thy heart... Let nothing refuse."

For the developing female, the breasts are the organ that play an important role both symbolically and actually. They are the visible sign that indicate to the adolescent girl that she will be like her mother and other women. The breasts become the emblem of femininity and are a basic core on which women base their self-esteem. In the past, the breasts have even been designated as the seat of woman's emotionality.

The author of this book addresses herself to the psychological response of the woman in whom a malignant neoplasm of the breast develops and who faces loss of this important symbolic organ. She bases her book on