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Treating malignancy with "imaging," laughter and optimism - a venture into new medical therapy.

Treating Malignancy with "Imaging," Laughter and Optimism - a venture into new medical therapy

"Depression is a partial surrender to death," wrote Dr. Arnold Hutschnecker in his book The Will to Live. "Because mind and body are indivisibly intertwined, we ourselves choose the time of illness, the kind of illness, the course of illness, and its gravity."

Hutschnecker is convinced that many diseases are the expression of an individual's need to withdraw from seemingly insurmountable problems and that death could be a particular choice to end the emotional struggle. "We are moving toward a recognition," he noted, that in illness of any kind, from the common cold to cancer, emotional stress plays a part."

Dr. Hutschnecker wrote The Will to Live more than forty years ago. He was among the early pioneers in the unfolding science of psychosomatic medicine. Since then, the concept of mind and body working together in health and disease has become common knowledge, although many physicians continue to resist the idea.

A younger proponent of Hutschnecker's beliefs is a forty-eight-year-old physician who is equally convinced that psychological forces underlie many cases of cancer. O. Carl Simonton of Fort Worth, Texas, says that cancer flourishes where there is despair and emotional distress.

The most effective way of dealing with the disease once it has established itself, he proposes, is to engage in a form of positive thinking. He has named the technique "imaging," which relies upon mental images to do battle against malignant invaders.

The belief that mind and body affect each other, in sickness and in health, has gained a substantial following compared to Dr. Hutschnecker's lonely journey. The rise of the holistic health movement has given impetus to the philosophy that people should be treated "wholly" and not compartmentalized.

Simonton has critics who consider his method of treating cancer to be baseless. They cannot reconcile their concept of science with Simonton's insistence that cancer cells can be destroyed by visualization.

Simonton has been championing his holistic approach to cancer treatment ever since he was a resident in training as a radiation therapist at the University of Oregon Medical School.

He began noticing that the more he could get his patients involved in their own care and exercise determination to think positively together with a concerted effort to lift mood and emotions through humor and laughter, hope seemed to grow.

As the patient became more concerned with proper diet, the use of nutrient supplements, moderate exercise, and firm resolve to recover, he observed that the changing state of mind affected the course of the illness.

During the early part of his career, and as he ventured carefully in this vast, strange new method of therapy, Dr. Simonton permitted his patients to use radiation therapy and other orthodox forms of treatment. During the radiation, a patient was instructed to visualize the body's white bloodcells swarming in and attacking the dying cancer cells. Each imaging was to close with the patient's visualizing the tumor decreasing.

"The results of the treatment," Simonton reported, were thrilling and frightening. Within two weeks, his cancer had noticeably diminished, and he was rapidly gaining weight again."

As Simonton experienced more successes with visualization therapy, he moved further away from standard cancer treatment and developed his own psychological-nutritional approach.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jun 22, 1989
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