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Bowers, M.K. Weinstock, C. (1978). A Case of Healing in Malignancy. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 6(3):393-402.

(1978). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 6(3):393-402

A Case of Healing in Malignancy

Margaretta K. Bowers and Charles Weinstock


A recent experiment, described by “Depressed Lymphocyte Function After Bereavement” in The Lancet, April 16, 1977, provides simple physiological rationale for four observed facts about cancer. First, cancer is generally preceded by a prolonged depression, as noted by Booth (1973) and Le Shan and Worthington (1956). Second, “spontaneous” regressions of cancer, when carefully investigated, are found to have been preceded by newly favorable (“antidepressive”) psychosocial situations, as described by Booth (1973). Third, cancer, when carefully followed, is found to regress as depression disappears after ECT, as described by Goldfarb, Driesen, and Cole (1967), and after insulin coma, as noted by Koroljow (1962). Fourth, prognosis in cancer is notoriously unreliable.

The Lancet article describes a well-conducted experiment in which there occurs a profound and prolonged loss of T-lymphocyte functional activity in humans following bereavement. The T-lymphocytes are the main cancer fighting cells of the immune systems, and, in fact, of the whole human body.


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