Solid, research-based study of how to make the most out of life when faced with death. Spiegel (Psychiatry/Stanford) received wide public attention when Bill Moyers's Healing and the Mind program devoted a segment to his group-therapy work with terminal cancer patients. Spiegel conducts research that provides advanced cancer patients weekly group therapy in which they're helped to confront their disease, face the inevitability of dying, and reorder their life priorities. These patients experience less pain, anxiety, and depression than similar patients not in group therapy, and follow-up has revealed that they live significantly longer as well. The voices of men and women in Spiegel's group therapy programs are heard here as the author shares his findings, covering such topics as weathering the diagnosis; managing anxiety and anger; communicating feelings; getting help from friends, family, and support groups; dealing with doctors; facing death; and controlling pain. For the latter, he recommends hypnosis, or ``focused attention,'' and he describes how the same can be used to control anxiety and nausea as well. Spiegel rejects the idea of physician-assisted suicide, and he scorns the simple mind-over-matter approach that ends up blaming the patient for the illness. For Spiegel, coping with illness is both a physical and a mental process, because the body and the mind are interactive. Overall, he finds the ideal approach to illness to be one that combines modern technology with compassionate human support. Practical, caring, and strongly recommended.
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