Email this review


Carl Simonton is the oncologist, Stephanie Simonton the psychologist at Fort Worth's Cancer Counseling and Research Center, a highly regarded cancer treatment facility which places as much emphasis on mental attitude as on medical intervention. They maintain that the cancer patient who undertakes visualizing exercises and attitude control techniques in conjunction with medical treatment can significantly lengthen his life expectancy and, in some cases, enjoy full recovery. Although the dubious might dismiss their recommendations for psychological ""surveillance"" techniques and development of an Inner Guide as mumbo-jumbo, and discount their examples of cancers forced into remission or disappearing entirely as miracle cures, their track record is commendable. Their work is grounded in an understanding of the body's immune system and periods of stress and vulnerability as well as in observed relationships between tumor growth rates and particular personality traits, and they reach back to 19th-century literature to demonstrate earlier beliefs in connections between disease and mental states. Laetrile is recognized only for its placebo effects--further proof of the power of positive expectations--and no diet is endorsed because the research ""is highly confusing and contradictory."" All of which puts them at odds with Susan Sontag in Illness as Metaphor (p. 482), which argues quite eloquently that cancer is a physical ailment, cause unknown, wrongly identified with repressed emotion much as TB was identified with the creative sensibility until the bacillus was discovered. If that's your view, the Simontons' book will have no value; for the uncertain and the last-resort, their book, along with Cantor's And a Time to Live (p. 30), may prove supportive.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1978
Publisher: Tarcher--dist. by St. Martin's