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Booth, G. (1973). Psychobiological Aspects of “Spontaneous” Regressions of Cancer. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 1(3):303-317.

(1973). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 1(3):303-317

Psychobiological Aspects of “Spontaneous” Regressions of Cancer

Gotthard Booth

The Somatic versus the Psychodynamic Concept

Reports of spontaneous regression of cancer have been published from time to time, but isolated cases met with widespread medical scepticism. This attitude cannot be maintained any longer. In 1966, Everson and Cole, two surgeons, reviewed the more than 700 publications which reported the phenomenon since 1900, and documented in detail 176 histologically proven cases. The authors defined “spontaneous” as “regression in absence of any external factor.” They hypothesized the agency of any one of several accidental events within the organism, none of which could be substantiated.

The monograph of 560 pages completely ignores the steadily growing number of scientific publications asserting the influence of psychological factors on cancer. They were reviewed in 1959 by LeShan. My own research (1965, 19691) led me to the following conclusions.

1)   As infants, cancer patients experienced traumatic frustration in their mother relationship. Their personalities bear the imprint of dominant pregenital fixations.

2)   The life histories of precancerous individuals are characterized by a desperate need for control of a specific object which may be a personal relationship, a socioeconomic career, or a vocation in the arts or sciences.

3)   The neoplastic process began when the patient experienced the irreparable loss of control over his idiosyncratic object.

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