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Alfonso, C.A. (2011). The Emperor of All Maladies—A Biography of Cancer, by Siddharta Mukherjee, Scribner, New York, 2010, 849 pp.. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 39(4):767-772.

(2011). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 39(4):767-772

The Emperor of All Maladies—A Biography of Cancer, by Siddharta Mukherjee, Scribner, New York, 2010, 849 pp.

Review by:
César A. Alfonso, M.D.

I cannot remember the last time I read a book with such fervent anticipation. As I transitioned from my post as Book Review Editor of the JAAPDP, I asked the incoming Book Review Editor, Dr. Joseph Silvio, to allow me to write this review. It is unusual for books outside of the fields of psychodynamic psychiatry and psychoanalysis to appear in the Book Review sections of the JAAP, JAAPDP or Psychodynamic Psychiatry. But the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry is an organization of physicians who value humanistic endeavors and affirm the maxim of the “biopsychosocial” approach (Cohen & Weisman, 1986; Engel, 1977) as integral to its culture. In this book Mukherjee emphasizes what the renowned oncologist Sidney Farber similarly called “total care.”

Cancer, he insisted, was a total disease—an illness that gripped patients not just physically, but psychically, socially and emotionally. Only a multipronged, multidisciplinary attack would stand any chance of battling this disease. He called the concept “total care” (pp. 132-133).

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