Treating Malignancy with "Imaging," Laughter and Optimism - a Venture into New Medical Therapy

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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. …