Cancer – a psychological approach

Through some of its characteristics, cancer remains one of the diagnostics with a powerful affective resonance on man. If we have a look at the specialized statistics, it is impossible not to feel that thrill in front of danger. Information such as: “four out of 10 persons are suffering from cancer”; “the prognosis in terms of cancer treatment remains reserved”; “the mortality rate of the people diagnosed with cancer is still high”, are enough to associate this term – cancer- with negative representations or with states of anxiety, even when reference is being made to the circle of the persons close to you, even more, when we are talking about your own person. In most of the cases the cancer diagnostic (under its varied forms) surprises or even shocks the patients because it follows a medical examination, be it one of routine, or is caused by a symptom that did not generate such a serious physical pain. Thus, from the attitude somewhat detached of the patient of the type “Let’s still see what I got” to the news “You have a malign tumor” or “It’s an irregular modification of tissue with … cancer cells”, it is such a long way that most people initially tend to reject the diagnostic. Some of them tend to do more investigations with different specialists and clinics hoping for an invalidation of the initial diagnostic; others have worries on their minds and hope for miraculous modifications. This is the negation stage, that, according to each patient, can last for few days or up to several weeks. It is actually the necessary period of time for the patient to understand that he is passing through a difficult situation. When the cancer diagnostic is certain, the negation stage is replaced by the fear stage. It is the stage that involves many questions (such as “What if I don’t respond to the treatment? What if it will be worse? What if another treatment will be better? What if…?”) and states of anxiety that dominate the patient in relation to the diagnostic and the prognosis for the treatment. During this stage, the patient is looking through books, newspapers, on the Internet, for similar diagnostics and reactions of other patients without realizing that through these searches he deepens his fear, his fears at the mental level strengthen, because he sees the reality (the image) of the disease under multiple forms of manifestation. The medical image of the disease gets to be accompanied by the feeling of concern connected to the danger that threatens the health and even the life of the patient. The patient faces beside the somatic disease, a second suffering – psychical, triggered by the feeling of living his own disease at the mental level. During this stage can appear: states of anxiety, panic attacks and depression. These become manifestations of reaction against a disease that the patients conceive as incurable.
As the time passes by, the patient accumulates more information and goes to the bargaining stage when he is trying to find out and even tries different forms of solving collateral to the solutions presented by the physician. During this stage, more or less consciously mechanisms to defend the EGO are searched for. There are patients who are looking for solutions in homeopathy or who hook themselves to the spiritual plan/ religious in a total changed manner compared to the period before finding the diagnostic. After passing through all the mechanisms of defense, the patient passes through the depression stage when exhaustion and discouragement appear, followed by the acceptance stage when the patient disarms accepting the evolution of disease as a destiny that you can not oppose.

(The following article – “The psychological support of the patient suffering from cancer”)

Author: Cimpu Aura- Cristina

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