Cancer Personality and its Importance in Healing

 

 

 

 

Emotional health and cancer

       Cancer Personality

     


In supporting many people with cancer over the past 17 years, it has been my observation that there are certain personality traits which are rather consistently present in the cancer - susceptible individual.

The understanding and belief that I eventually came to was that the root cause of the overwhelming majority of cancers can be found in the realm of the mind and the emotions and their direct connection to the functioning of the immune system. To ultimately heal the cancer completely, this is the area the cancer patient eventually needs to address- whether sooner or later.

People with cancer have develop extreme coping methods many of us employ, that is, denying our true feelings and confirm to social standards. My study of cancer and of people with cancer led me to convincing evidence that our physical health is compromised when we chronically repress our needs and feelings to accommodate others. I was able to find evidence that this coping style weakens our immune defenses and leaves us more vulnerable to cancer progression.

Evidence of a relationship between cancer and personality type has existed for centuries. Ancient medical systems, which work with the human body as a totality on all levels, have always known that unresolved emotional conflicts, could lead to physiological blockage. We have known for over 2,000 years, from the writings of Plato and Galen and many others that there is a direct correlation between the mind, the body and one's health. 



Thoughts and repressed emotions stored in the body - over time manifested as dis-ease. 

Emotions play a crucial part in the genesis and healing of serious disease such as cancer. »»emotional health and cancer. Individuals often have experienced some kind of shock and trauma in their lives and remain deeply affected by the experience. Often they have difficulty in expressing their inner grief, their inner pain, their inner anger or resentment, and genuinely feel there is no way out of the pain they are feeling inside. This can have a devastating effect on their health and immune system until it is resolved and healed in any of a number of ways.

 

I observed that many people with cancer were “pleasers” who had spent their entire lives trying to be accepted by others - spouses, parents, siblings, coworkers, friends etc. In fact, their very identities seemed to be derived from how they were perceived by others in their lives.

They rarely or never expressed anger, and rarely did they acknowledge fear and sadness. They maintained a facade of pleasantness even under the most painful or aggravating circumstances. They strived excessively to please people they cared about, to please authority figures, even to please strangers.

Many individuals with cancer are unassertive, cooperative and appeasing with work, social and family relationships and also compliant with external authority.

They were overly concerned with meeting others’ needs and insufficiently engaged in meeting their own needs. They were often self-sacrificing to an extreme.

Social situations can produce a lot of stress. How an individual handles stress is a function of  their personality. Those who ‘explode’ and ventilate their emotions are freed of the burden, but those who are ‘nice’, internalize the stress which has it’s consequences by degrading our health.  Every doctor knows the ‘cancer personality’. This is one who is the nicest person that you would want to know. They are rarely hostile, violent, vulgar or abusive.


      


This polite presentation comes at a prize    


The insults and indignities of life that we all experience, the individual susceptible to cancer suffers in silence, all the while increasing the toxic emotional burden that he carries. We know that toxic emotions shut down our immune system, making such a person a candidate for cancer. People say “He is the nicest person in the world, This should not have happened to him”

It is important for such people to find a channel for them to ventilate. Maybe a sport such as tennis, running, swimming, dancing, to name a few, where they can attach a personality and ventilate their pent-up frustration in a socially acceptable way.
If you have cancer, it is necessary to change the stress factors in your life or how you handle them, or they will harm you in the long term. You can be sure of one thing, carrying this load will exact its price in health. »»stress and cancer
       

  • The individual with cancer has a tendency to place strength outside himself and to feel weak and vulnerable inside.

That's also what happens when he finally gets a tumor and he has to be operated on, radiated and treated with chemotherapy. He is helpless, desperate and completely dependent on his doctor. I always insist with cancer patients that they have to decide for themselves and feel what is good for them and what they want and do not want. You have to give them back their strength and they have to take it back. Dr. Bernie Siegel, an American surgeon, insists in his excellent book Love, Harmony and Cure, that as a patient you have to be assertive, to ensure that when hospitalized you have a room with a view, to ask for your favorite music during the operation, etc. To stand up for yourself and to fulfill your own needs is of primary importance in cure 

       

  • The "Cancer personality" has often a tendency to let others violate his own space.
He doesn't take sufficient space for himself, but his space is invaded by others and he is too weak to throw them out. The Individual has to learn to take his destiny into his own hands.

  • Those susceptible to cancer have often a very low self esteem and fundamental lack of self-confidence combined with weak defenses.
Therefore they are very sensitive to everything that can undermine their self - confidence and is unable to stand up for himself. One way to survive is adaptation and avoidance of criticism as much as possible. They can be very fastidious in their work, but not especially when they don't need to perform, e.g at home. They adapt to the demands of others trying to regain their approval.

  • There is also a tendency to escape this demanding, critical and unfriendly world by entering a world of fantasy, dreams and harmony by reading for hours, being in nature, playing with animals, being transported by music and dancing, thus giving expression to the emotions that have been suppressed as part of his survival strategy. 

  • There is still another way to escape from this feeling of being weak, namely by refusing to do whatever is required and say ‘No, I cannot do this’ without even trying.

Another way to resolve his problem of feeling weak and worthless is to prove that he is capable by controlling everything. So he becomes very persevering, extremely well organized, plans everything, leaves nothing to chance.


       

This are common symptoms, cancer patients expressed before they started their treatment with the mind - body approach:

  • Guilt - extreme guilt that is not warranted
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Low self image
  • Victim mentality
  • Fear of rejection
  • Abuse of some form in childhood
  • Loss of reason for existence
  • Living in comfort rather than following dreams
  • Inability to express anger and resentment 

  • Trying to be a good person all the time 
  • A need to make sure everyone is happy over ones own happiness and contentment
  • Inability to say No 
  • Suppression of all strong emotions
  • Addictions or surrounded by addictive personalities
  • Conditional love to or from others
  • A need to make sure everyone is happy over ones own happiness and contentment  

  • Nice people
  • Great sensitivity
  • Unlived life - unfulfilled dreams
  • Deep hurt, resentments 
  • Excessive fears, guilt
  • Inability to cope with change   
  • Self-hate or denial
  • Loss of own identity
  • Out of balance with self
  • Disturbed childhood  
  • Withdrawal from life
  •  Family history of cancer 

        

Being highly conscientious, dutiful, responsible, caring, hard working, and usually of above average intelligence.
  • Exhibiting a strong tendency toward carrying other people's burdens and toward taking on extra obligations, often “worrying for others.

  • Having a deep-seated need to make others happy, tending     to be "people pleasers." Having a great need for approval.

  • Often having a history of lack of closeness with one or both parents, sometimes, later in life, resulting in lack of closeness with spouse or others who would normally be close.

  • Harboring long-suppressed toxic emotions, such as anger, resentment and/or hostility. Typically the cancer-susceptible individual internalizes such emotions and has great difficulty expressing them. 

    They react adversely to emotional stress, and often becomes unable to cope adequately with such stress. The patient is not able to cope with this traumatic event or series of events, which comes as a "last straw" on top of years of suppressed reactions to stress.


  • Showing an inability to resolve deep-seated emotional problems and conflicts, usually arising in childhood, often even being unaware of their presence.

  • Typical of the cancer-susceptible personality, as noted above, is the long-standing tendency to suppress “toxic emotions,” particularly anger.
Usually starting in childhood, this individual has held in his/her hostility and other unacceptable emotions.  More often than not, this feature of the affected personality has its origins in feelings of rejection by one or both parents. Whether these feelings or rejection are justified or not, it is the perception of rejection that matters, and this results in a lack of closeness with the “rejecting” parent or parents, followed later in life by a similar lack of closeness with spouses and others with whom close relationships would normally develop.

  • Those at higher risk for cancer tend to develop feelings of loneliness as a result of their having been deprived of affection and acceptance earlier in life, even if this is merely their own perception. These people have a tremendous need for approval and acceptance, developing a very high sensitivity to the needs of others while suppressing their own emotional needs.

  • Often lacking closeness with one or both parents, which sometimes, later in life, results in lack of closeness with spouse or others who would normally be close.
They become the "caretakers" of the world, showing great showing great compassion and caring for others, and will go out of their way to look after others.

        
  • A distinction needs to be made here between the "care-       giving" and the "care-taking" personality. There is nothing wrong with care giving, of course, but the problem arises when the susceptible person derives their entire worth,       value and identity from their role as "caretaker". If this very important shift cannot be made, the patient is stuck in this role, and the susceptibility to cancer greatly increases.

  • People who are susceptible to cancer are often perfectionists and live in fear of conflict, stress, trauma and loss and are deeply frightened of negative events “happening” to them. 

    And when faced with a highly stressful or traumatic event   they have not anticipated, which inevitably happens during their life, react adversely and are unable to cope.


  • How one reacts to stress appears to be a major factor in the larger number of contributing causes of cancer are highly vulnerable to life's stressful event, usually about two years prior to the onset of detectable disease. This traumatic event is often beyond the patient's control, such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a business, job, home, or some other major disaster. 

  • The typical cancer personality has lost the ability to cope         with these extreme events, because his/her coping mechanism lies in his/her ability to control the environment. When this control is lost, the patient has no other way to cope.

       


Those who are susceptible to cancer, experience often Inescapable Shock and remain deeply affected by the experience.


They have difficulty in expressing their inner grief, their inner pain, their inner anger or resentment, and genuinely feel there is no way out of the pain they are feeling inside. And because their mind cannot fathom what has happened, and remains in a state of disbelief or denial, these inner painful feelings are continually perpetuated, shooting up stress levels, lowering melatonin and adrenaline levels, causing a slow breakdown of the emotional reflex centre in the brain, and creating the beginning of cancer progression in the body.


  • When faced with a major trauma, the cancer personality          feels trapped and unable to escape from the memory of          the traumatic experience and the painful feelings of the experience. 
Stress hormone levels skyrocket and remain at high levels, directly suppressing the immune system, whose job it is to destroy cancer cells that exist in every human being. 

  • Learned helplessness is a key aspect of the cancer                  personality when facing a perceived inescapable shock,           and is a strong causal factor of cancer.
  • Major stress causes suppression of the immune system,          and does so more overwhelmingly in the cancer-susceptible individual than in others. Thus personal tragedies and  excessive levels of stress appear to combine with the underlying personality described above to bring on the immune deficiency that allows cancer to thrive.

  • They are often very reluctant to accept help from others, fearing that it may jeopardize their role as caretakers or          that they might appear to have too much self concern.
  • Throughout their childhood they have often been taught,         not to be "selfish", and they take this to heart as a major lifetime objective. All of this benevolence is highly commendable, of course, in our culture, but must be somehow modified in the case of the cancer patient.

  • As noted above, a consistent feature of those who are susceptible to cancer appears to be that they suffer in             silence and bear their burdens without complaint.
  • Burdens of their own as well as the burdens of others weigh heavily, often subconsciously as well as consciously, upon these people because they, through a lifetime of suppression, internalize their problems and conflicts. The carefree extrovert, on the other hand, seems to be far less vulnerable to cancer than the caring introvert described above.

      


 Suppressing "toxic" emotions


Typical of the cancer-susceptible personality, as noted above, is the long-standing tendency to suppress "toxic emotions," particularly anger.

Usually starting in childhood, this individual has held in his/her hostility and other unacceptable emotions. More often than not, this feature of the affected personality has its origins in feelings of rejection by one or both parents.

Whether these feelings or rejection are justified or not, it is the perception of rejection that matters, and this results in a lack of closeness with the "rejecting" parent or parents, followed later in life by a similar lack of closeness with spouses and others with whom close relationships would normally develop.

Those at higher risk for cancer tend to develop feelings of loneliness as a result of their having been deprived of affection and acceptance earlier in life, even if this is merely their own perception. These people have a tremendous need for approval and acceptance, developing a very high sensitivity to the needs of others while suppressing their own emotional needs.


       


 "Caretaker" of the world


These nice people become the "caretakers" of the world, showing great compassion and caring for others, and going out of their way to look after the needs of others. They are very reluctant to accept help from others, fearing that it may jeopardize their role as caretakers or that they might appear to have too much self-concern.

Throughout their childhood they have typically been taught "not to be selfish," and they take this to heart as a major lifetime objective. All of this benevolence is highly commendable, of course, in our culture, but must be somehow modified in the case of the cancer patient. A distinction needs to be made here between the "care-giving" and the "care-taking" personality.

There is nothing wrong with care-giving, of course, but the problem arises when the susceptible individual derives his/her entire worth, value and identity from his/her role as "caretaker." If this shift cannot be made, the patient is stuck in this role, and the susceptibility to cancer greatly increases.


       


 Suffering in Silence


As noted above, a consistent feature of those who are susceptible to cancer appears to be that they "suffer in silence," and bear their burdens without complaint. Burdens of their own as well as the burdens of others weigh heavily, often subconsciously as well as consciously, upon these people because they, through a lifetime of suppression, internalize their problems, cares and conflicts. The carefree extrovert, on the other hand, seems to be far less vulnerable to cancer than the caring introvert described above.


 Stress and Cancer


Most cancer patients have experienced a highly stressful event, usually about 2 years prior to the onset of detectable disease.

How one reacts to stress appears to be a major factor in the development of cancer. Most cancer patients have experienced a highly stressful event, usually about 2 years prior to the onset of detectable disease. This traumatic event is often beyond the patient's control, such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a business, job, home, or some other major disaster. The typical cancer victim has lost the ability to cope with these extreme events, because his/her coping mechanism lies in his/her ability to control the environment. When this control is lost, the patient has no other way to cope.

The way they react to stress is due largely to the way they think about life. There can be no lasting changes of behavior without first having a change in thinking and in belief systems. It is often extremely difficult for these patients to make substantial changes in these ingrained patterns of thought. Many find it too difficult or too disagreeable to make such alterations in their settled way of thinking and reacting. Many likewise find it too unpleasant to make changes in the physical aspects of their life-style, even in the face of life-threatening illness.

Major stress causes suppression of the immune system, and does so more overwhelmingly in the cancer-susceptible individual than in others. Thus personal tragedies and excessive levels of stress appear to combine with the underlying personality described above to bring on the immune deficiency which allows cancer to thrive. These observations have given rise to the term psychoneuroimmunology.

       

Comments from Individuals after successful treatment with the mind body medicine approach:


  • I feel that I am someone; I don’t feel less valued than other people any more; I am more confident.
  • I can take time for myself without feeling guilty; I can help others’ problems without taking them on my shoulders; I        feel more clearly what is mine and what is theirs.
  • I can more easily say no and defend my own space; I don’t feel guilty any more when I take time and care for myself.
  • I allow myself to be angry when anybody shows me a lack of respect.
  • I express now what I think and what I feel; I do my best and then it is okay, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
  • I now do what I want to do myself.
  • I keep at a distance from my father, I also have my own life.
  • I set boundaries for my children and satisfy my own needs.

 
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